Uptown Moving To Main Street

May 5, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners recently threw their full support behind the Uptown Neighborhood Business District’s application to the Cool Cities Michigan Main Street Program.

The Uptown district isn’t looking for state funding, but for the technical assistance the program provides to help move neighborhood businesses forward.

“The business districts are coming together to promote business vitality in the area,” said City Economic Development Director Kara Wood.

East Fulton, East Hills, Wealthy Street and Eastown are the business districts involved in the Uptown application. Main Street would assist in revitalization and preservation efforts and help to identify the unique characteristics of the districts. The idea is to make the district a more attractive place for people to live, work and shop.

“We thought this would be a great way for our team to get more training from Lansing,” said Kimberly Van Dyk, executive director of Neighborhood Ventures, a local nonprofit organization that provides assistance to the city’s 20 business districts.

“It is possible to share this information with other business districts,” she added.

Uptown recently enlisted Neighborhood Ventures to develop a comprehensive plan for the area, one that includes getting infrastructure and streetscape improvements, marketing the district’s shops to tourists and convention delegates, and creating more special events.

Van Dyk said the Uptown businesses are in the process of putting together a Corridor Improvement District. A CID would allow the designated area to capture a portion of the new property tax revenue that comes from upgrades made to properties in the district and then use those dollars to make more improvements to the area.

Van Dyk also said the Southtown district was considering applying for a CID. Madison Square, Franklin Eastern, Division South, Oakdale Eastern and Boston Square are the southeast-side business areas that make up the Southtown district.

This year marks the sixth year for the Cool Cities Michigan Main Street Program.

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