Street Talk

Street Talk: Downtown parking is a balancing act

Tech trends.

February 19, 2016
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Downtown development carries a cost, and it’s not just in dollars.

With a slew of projects already underway and more on the drawing board, the initiative to invigorate downtown’s residential component (also known as the GR Forward plan) is producing dividends.

The ancillary cost — or maybe the collateral damage, if you will — is parking.

As Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. President and CEO Kris Larson notes, Grand Rapids appears to be on a “great precipice of the next wave of big projects.”

Many of those projects are slated to be developed on surface parking lots across downtown, including Venue Tower — Orion’s project on Ellis Parking’s Ottawa and Lyon lot; CWD Real Estate Investment’s project on the lot north of 50 Monroe; a potential project on the Fifth Third Bank Building lot near Lyon Street and Ottawa Avenue NW; and the proposed movie theater complex on lots behind Van Andel Arena.

And contrary to what many believe, the loss of parking lots is not lost on Larson.

The movie theater poses the biggest challenge, he said, because it would be located on what are now large city-owned lots.

“There’s quite a bit of interest in the movie theater complex,” Larson said. “That’s a major initiative we’re managing right now, but one thing that project does is create some complications for us to think about subsequent projects down the road. We’ll manage through a parking crunch for a couple of years.”

Larson said the city has enough parking supply to move existing parkers off the sites, should the project move forward, but other lots being developed without additional parking could magnify parking problems, he said — at least until downtown workers and residents make a concerted move to use alternate modes of transportation.

Development of the downtown continues to be a balancing act, and Larson acknowledges this, as Midwesterners in mid-sized cities love to be able to park close to their destination.

“For us, the next couple of months are critical to help get that deal done,” Larson said, referring to the proposed movie theater complex. “If that happens, I think we’re focused on that for a couple of years, at least to the disposition of other DDA-owned lots. Now, that does not preclude other infill developments on privately owned lots.”

Obviously, that’s where the balancing act comes into play.

Prayer matters

One of the recommendations in Ferris State University’s new “There is a Home for You at Ferris State University: A Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2016-2021” has been welcomed by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who serves as president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

The new FSU document highlights designating spaces for individuals to pray, contemplate and meditate by 2021 under its second goal of building and maintaining “an infrastructure that supports diversity and promotes inclusion.”

Zed said in a statement that FSU’s aim to provide designated prayer spaces was a step in the right direction and hoped the prayer spaces would help students have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success after they graduate.

He also suggested providing a permanent and exclusive Hindu prayer room for rituals, reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise for Hindu students.

FSU began working toward creating a new plan in March 2014 when the university hired Ibis Consulting Group and Creative Diversity Solutions to perform an audit during the 2014-2015 academic year.

A plan featuring six goals and more than 30 recommendations was drafted after a yearlong effort to assess FSU’s existing climate and provide suggestions for changing the way the university works.

Some of the report’s goals include creating a university that is respectful of differences and civil toward people who are different; building and maintaining an infrastructure that supports diversity and promotes inclusion; recruiting, retaining and graduating a diverse student population; and recruiting, employing and retaining a diverse workforce.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion in teaching, learning and research, and building upon current partnerships and creating new ones to enhance the university’s commitment to diverse populations were also listed in the five-year plan.

Space tour

If you’ve ever thought about joining one of the city’s co-working spaces, now’s your chance to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Worklab by Custer is giving people a chance to experience its co-working space without having to purchase a membership.

During the week of March 14-18, Worklab will host Free We Share Work Week at its space in the Campau Square Plaza building, 99 Monroe Ave. NW.

“It’s a great chance for anyone that is interested in off-site work and meeting space to come see what Worklab is all about,” said Mark Custer, owner of Worklab by Custer.

He said visitors are invited to come for a day or the full week.

“Worklab can be a great resource for working and meeting, but being here also connects you to so many other business professionals in an inspiring setting right downtown,” Custer said.

Featured speakers and business service partners will be in the space throughout the week to help facilitate those connections.

Worklab opened in June 2014 and currently has 64 members. It offers amenities like high-speed data, direct phone line with voicemail, copy and printing services, concierge services, access to an onsite fitness center, and coffee and healthy snacks in its café.

A $29 day pass as well as several punch card and membership options are available for individuals and groups.

Technical support

As West Michigan’s tech community gears up for an anticipated period of expansion (come on down, Switch!), it’s comforting to know some of the area’s stalwarts are already at the top of their game.

That includes Trivalent Group, which can trace its West Michigan roots back to 1971.

Trivalent last week was named to the 2016 Managed Service Provider 500 list in the MSP Elite 150 category by CRN, a brand of The Channel Co.

“We are honored to be included among the MSP 500 Elite 150 Managed Service Providers for the third consecutive year,” said Larry Andrus, Trivalent’s CEO. “It is a privilege to serve our managed services clients by managing their IT infrastructure and providing 24/7 proactive support and hosting solutions so that they focus on their core business, rather than their technology.”

For those unfamiliar with Trivalent, it is a cloud and managed services, IT support, business continuity and network services provider. Its spot on the annual MSP Elite list marks it as a cutting-edge brand.

“MSPs meet a critical need in the IT market, providing customized, turnkey services that allow for predictable operational expenses, effective control of expenditures, precise allocation of limited resources and convenient access to on-demand and pay-as-you-go technology,” said Robert Faletra, CEO of Channel.

“We congratulate the service providers of the MSP 500, who continually reinvent themselves to successfully meet their customers’ changing needs, helping businesses get the most out of their IT investments and sharpen their competitive edge.”

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