Architecture & Design, Economic Development, and Real Estate

Calder Plaza redesign includes pavilion, café

Progressive AE hopes to have final design in place by next June.

August 10, 2018
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Progressive AE expected to wrap up the design phase of Calder Plaza in June 2019, in time for the 50-year anniversary of the La Grande Vitesse sculpture in Calder Plaza. Rendering courtesy DGRI

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority approved the initial design phase to make permanent improvements to Calder Plaza.

Phase 1 of improvements encompass the southeastern edge of the plaza and include edge planting improvements, a great pavilion with a stage and a café building.

Stephanie Wong, project specialist for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., said the guidelines for the project are tentative at this point, but for the café area, the project team wants a build-out of the foundation ready for any prospective tenants.

“We’re going to do the build-out of the foundation, so if it’s a private or public (tenant), they’re ready to move in right away and have the equipment they need to start a café or a small restaurant,” she said.

The city issued a request for qualifications in June. The RFQ was distributed nationally, but ultimately, the city selected local firm Progressive AE as the preferred consultant.

James Horman, principal at Progressive AE, said in a letter to the city, “creating community spaces that are utilized to their fullest potential is something at the forefront of the minds of the team members at Progressive AE. We have more than 50 years’ experience in creating engaging, energetic and collaborative communities.”

Horman also pointed to Progressive AE’s current work with the city on ADA enhancements to the City-County Administration Building as proof of the firm’s eligibility.

The design phase is scheduled to kick off in September, and Wong said the project team hopes to have a final design in place by June 2019, in time for the 50-year anniversary of the “La Grand Vitesse” sculpture in Calder Plaza.

The contract with Progressive AE for design and bidding services is $213,180. Funding for the services is provided in the fiscal year 2019 Priority Plan LTI Parks Design.

The construction cost is estimated to be $2.8 million once the design phase is complete. Board member Kayem Dunn asked where funding would come from outside of the DDA’s responsibilities.

“I’d hate to have a wonderful design and have no money to build,” she said.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said the city already has discussed funding for its share of the cost and hoped the county would come in as a partner on the project, as well.

Wong said the southeastern section was selected for Phase 1 because it can connect with the reconstruction of Ottawa Avenue from a one-way to a two-way street.

“We’re hopeful that it’ll blend into a lot of that area that the city is ready to move forward with and, hopefully later, do the other parts of the plaza, as well,” she said.

Redesigns for the remainder of the plaza are tentative at this point, but Wong said one proposal is to have a skywalk over Monroe Avenue connecting to DeVos Place as identified in the master plan for Calder Plaza. Its design and construction date would be contingent on the convention center’s own plans for reconstruction.

DGRI, along with the city and the county, adopted the master plan for Calder Plaza, derived from GR Forward, in February 2017.

An earlier Business Journal report said the DDA approved temporary improvements to Calder Plaza in anticipation for a more permanent solution in April 2018. The provisions included moveable furniture and lawn games like cornhole that can be easily stored.

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