City to income and property taxpayers: ‘Take the bus’

February 19, 2016
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Grand Rapids Business Journal reports show a steadily increasing number of downtown developments now coming to fruition — and every one of them devours yet another parking area with no replacement plan.

Downtown is considered the Central Business District, but just as the city parking department last month morphed into the “mobility” department, downtown is morphing into an entertainment and residential district — and it’s at the expense of city taxpayers and those who work in the city and pay income taxes.

Business owners, who at great expense purchase and lease buildings downtown, are in fact now forced out of the district. The Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. architects of this plan (perhaps best referred to as GRBackward) all are given free parking in what remains of city parking ramps, as are city commissioners and high-ranking city staffers. The taxpayers should take the bus. So, too, should the employees “filling the downtown streets” and the business owners who employ them.

The Business Journal’s website, grbj.com, provided exclusive news in regard to AC Hotels by Marriott’s plan to open its new facility in January 2018 — in the parking lot north of 50 Monroe Ave. NW.

Consider also:

  • The Venue Tower development eliminates the Ellis parking lot at Ottawa and Lyon.
  • The proposed redesign of Calder Plaza includes possible development of the parking lot south of the plaza and on Lyon Street. It is bordered by the Calder Plaza Building, 250 Monroe Ave. NW, and Fifth Third Bank Building, 111 Lyon St. NW.
  • The long-discussed plan of Celebration! Cinema group offshoot Jackson Entertainment is to build in Parking Area 5 directly behind the arena. Owners estimate a need for 400 to 500 parking spaces, and that issue continues to delay the project.
  • Van Andel Arena managers have expressed concerns for the ever-disappearing parking areas and impact on arena business.
  • Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong recently told Business Journal sources he expects a plan to extend Ottawa Avenue south will move forward, splitting a city lot in two with doubtful future parking conveyance and certain traffic nightmares for the U.S. 131 entranceway.
  • Handicap parking areas are diminished for every parking area removed.

The Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. group operating the city Downtown Development Authority and its several millions in funding, and city commissioners who have oversight, would have 61,580 commuters to downtown offices (2011 U.S. Census data) “modify behavior” and ride the bus (or a bike).

The Business Journal noted last fall the plan is far more elaborate than the failed 1970s downtown pedestrian mall “revitalized” in the late 1990s at a cost of $6.4 million and reopened in 2000. Indeed, like the pedestrian mall, built to attract retailers, the GR Forward plan proposes to build a residential neighborhood called downtown to attract more residents.

In July, the Business Journal noted the process and the resulting plan are hogwash. Far from a “study,” it is a list of ideas. It is not planning; it is the absence of planning.

This “planning” is incompetent and incomplete, and DeLong and city commissioners should take the heat.

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