Downtown Alliance will celebrate greatness

June 29, 2012
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The annual Fourth of July celebration isn’t the only item on the calendar for downtown Grand Rapids this week. This week also marks the final full week to nominate businesses, institutions and individuals in the district for the Making Downtown Great awards sponsored by the Downtown Alliance. Anyone can nominate, but all nominations must be made by midnight July 10.

A few days later, the public will begin voting for the winners in online balloting that will run through August. Each winner will receive the recognition that reflects their accomplishments in the Central Business District. Each will be presented with a “Gretchen,” an original award designed by noted architect, artist and downtown resident Gretchen Minnhaar.

The winners will be honored at the alliance’s annual meeting in September.

“We want to focus attention on the growth and investment that continues to occur in the CBD,” said Ray Kisor, chairman of the Downtown Awards Committee and a principal in Colliers International of West Michigan, a commercial real estate firm located downtown.

“Individuals and businesses are making a choice to invest in downtown Grand Rapids, and we believe that their confidence and their accomplishments need to be recognized,” added Kisor in a statement.

This is the second go-around for the awards, which the alliance has made into a bi-annual event. The first one, in 2010, resulted in eight first-place awards in six categories and three specialty honors.

The specialty honors two years ago included the JW Marriott, which picked up the Chairman’s Award. Rockford Construction Co. won the Unsung Hero’s Award, and the Convention Center and Arena Authority was named the Game Changer.

First-place awards went to Stella’s Lounge and The Viceroy at 53 Commerce Ave. SW for Best Adaptive Reuse; Thirty-Eight and the Grand Rapids Art Museum tied for New Construction; the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum’s mural and HopCat tied for Small Project with a Big Impact; Heritage Restaurant won Best Kept Secret; GR Civic Theatre won for Exterior Renovation; and ArtPrize earned the Making Downtown Great award. Thirty-one honorable mentions were also named in those categories.

Nominations can be made at The alliance’s awards committee will review the nominations and then allow the public to vote beginning July 20. Nominees must fall within the district’s boundary, which is listed as south from I-196 to Logan Street and east from the Grand River to Jefferson Avenue, but also extending along East Fulton to Barclay Avenue.

Projects must be finished or at least 95-percent completed when nominated; a previous first-place winner can’t win twice in the same category.

“Through this process, we can recognize individual businesses for the work they are doing, and doing well. We hope that these accomplishments will inspire future renovations, unique design and quality construction in and around the CBD,” said Bob Partridge, who chairs the alliance’s board of directors.

The winners will be selected by votes from the public and the awards committee. This year’s awards also include a sustainability category, which will honor a business that has made the effort to be a good environmental steward and helped sustain downtown for future generations.

“We are looking for nominations from the public, from downtown employees, downtown visitors and other developers. We are also looking for businesses to nominate themselves. It shows they have a great deal of pride in their work,” said Sharon Evoy, executive director of the alliance.

“We want to recognize our shiniest stars — the people and the projects that are making downtown great.”

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