Economic Development and Government

GR Forward plan moves forward

Public comment phase also will include approximately 10 neighborhood presentations.

August 14, 2015
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Blue Bridge
The Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids is a pedestrian walkway that extends across the Grand River. Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

The GR Forward draft plan is advancing, following a vote by the Grand Rapids City Commission last week.

The plan now has entered into a mandatory 42-day public comment period.

Kris Larson, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., said there would be several opportunities during that time for the public to provide feedback on the proposed plan. He also noted 42 days is a minimum requirement and could be extended if needed.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 17, people will be able to drop in at DGRI’s office, 29 Pearl St. NW, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., to review copies of the plan and executive summary, and also can submit comments on the plan.

Larson said DGRI plans to provide “meet the planners” sessions during open house hours, giving people the opportunity to discuss the plan in greater depth with its planners.

Additionally, copies of the plan are available for review and commenting at all Grand Rapids Public Library locations, and the plan is available online for review and feedback.

DGRI anticipates hosting approximately 10 events with partnering organizations and neighborhood associations to present the plan and gather feedback.

“At the conclusion of the comment period, we will reconvene the steering committees for downtown and the river to cast a vote to recommend the revised GR Forward plan go to the appropriate boards and commissions for adoption,” Larson said.

Those boards and committees include the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, Monroe North TIFA, Grand Rapids Public Schools board, Grand Rapids Planning Commission, and, ultimately, the Grand Rapids City Commission.

“The planning commission meeting will be accompanied by a public hearing where citizens can further voice their comments on the record,” Larson noted.

“At that point, our job will be to demonstrate to the various boards and commissions how the public comments were incorporated into the plan.”

The draft plan includes six overarching objectives that incorporate feedback gathered from more than 3,000 residents and stakeholders over the past year.

Once adopted by the Grand Rapids City Commission, the GR Forward plan will guide decision-making and investments downtown for the next 10 years.

The six goals included in the plan are:

  • Restore the river and make it the focal point of downtown activity.
  • Create a true downtown neighborhood that is home to a diverse population. 
  • Implement a 21st Century Mobility Strategy.
  • Expand job opportunities and ensure continued economic vitality.
  • Reinvest in public spaces, culture and inclusive programming.
  • Increase investment in and expansion of the GRPS theme schools and specialized programs to attract students and families and retain talent.

To review the GR Forward plan, visit beta.downtowngr.org/our-work/projects/gr-forward.

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