DDA Keeps Street Promises

October 20, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — A single action taken by the Downtown Development Authority recently will allow the board to make good on a trio of prior commitments.

Board members agreed at their last meeting to fund the biggest chunk of the cost to reconstruct a stretch of

Campau Avenue
that runs from
Pearl Street
Monroe Avenue

The DDA awarded the construction contract to Diversco Construction Co., which outbid five other firms for the work.

Diversco came in with the lowest bid of $1.06 million, which was discounted to $1.009 million because the company had the highest participation of minority subcontractors.

"It's interesting that the lowest bid has the highest WMBE participation and it's not costing us any more," said Mayor George Heartwell of the discount the city gives firms when minority-owned companies are included in bids.

The Campau reconstruction is not to exceed $1.36 million, and the DDA is covering $870,000 of that cost. The city's water department and sewer system are contributing $95,000 and $400,000, respectively, to the project.

The street work is part of the promise the DDA made to Alticor Inc. for its $100 million investment in the new JW Marriott hotel being built on

Campau Avenue
. The board pledged $5 million in assistance to the project last year, with $2 million coming in the form of street work along Campau and on
Pearl Street
, and $3 million in reimbursements over 20 years for public improvements that Alticor is making as part of the hotel construction.

The DDA allocated more than $330,000 last year to the reconstruction of

Pearl Street

Last May, the DDA agreed to pick up a larger portion of the cost to rebuild streets in its district because of the city's budget problems. The board drew $4 million from its fund balance for this fiscal year specifically to spend more on city streets.

"Over half of our budget will be dedicated to this," said David Cassard, DDA member.

And rebuilding

Campau Avenue
keeps a pledge the DDA recently made to Disabilities Advocates of Kent County. The organization told board members last month that downtown has many barriers that make travel difficult for those who are physically challenged.
Campau Avenue
was called one of the worst of the district's streets.

"If you want barriers, walk

Campau Avenue
," said Barb Stoops of Disability Advocates.

Work on Campau is to start this fall and be finished by August, prior to the opening of the JW Marriott.    

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