State planning group to honor the DDA for Arena South plan
Organization’s visioning process is cited for its public involvement.
The Arena South Visioning Plan, which defined the architectural and urban design standards that will be used for future developments downtown, has brought planning honors to the Downtown Development Authority.
The Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association has given the city’s DDA its 2013 Planning Excellence Award for the public outreach it used to gather data for the Arena South plan, which was created to determine how to develop the parking lots south of Van Andel Arena that are owned by the DDA.
“The award is a tribute to our highly creative and capable staff and consultant team and the hundreds of citizens that participated to make the Arena South planning process a success,” said Brian Harris, DDA chairman, in a statement. “We are deeply honored by this recognition.”
The process involved creating a steering committee that was comprised of community members and downtown stakeholders and about a half-dozen events, including a Brew and Do and a Walk and Talk through the district, to get input from the public.
The APA award recognizes exceptional efforts that are made to include members of the public in the planning process.
The award is the first planning honor the DDA has received.
“We have an increasingly diverse and intergenerational community of people taking an active interest in downtown’s redevelopment, growth and future. That means it is more important than ever that we constantly strive for and leverage new ways to reach and engage all citizens in our city-building conversation,” said DDA Executive Director Kristopher Larson.
Orion Construction is buying one of the DDA-owned lots for Arena Place, a $30 million, mixed-use development. The project, which will feature retail, office space and market-rate apartments, will be built on the Area 1 lot on Ottawa Avenue at Weston Street. Construction is set to begin in December.
The DDA hired Cornerstone Architects, VIRDIS Design Group, and Williams and Works as consultants for the development of the Arena South plan. The three businesses turned in their final report to the DDA in April.
The APA Michigan Chapter will present the DDA and the consultants with its award on Oct. 2 as part of its annual meeting, which will be held in the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo.
The award is at least the second the board has earned this year. In January, the Business Journal named the DDA and Grand Action Committee its Newsmaker of the Year for creating the new Downtown Market at 435 Ionia Ave. SE. The outdoor market opened in May, while the Indoor Market Hall officially opened last week.