Economic Development, Real Estate, and Sustainability

Grand Rapids reveals $40M River for All plans

November 2, 2018
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Grand Rapids River for All Grand River riverfront segment rendering
Courtesy City of Grand Rapids

Final plans have been revealed for $40 million in park developments around the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

Community leaders shared yesterday final concept plans for River for All, a City of Grand Rapids project, which includes the design of trails and six sites along both sides of the 7.5-mile Grand River stretch between Riverside Park and Millennium Park.

The sites for development include the decommissioned city water department storage yard, Leonard to Ann trail connection, Coldbrook decommissioned water-pumping site, Monroe North district property, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Fish Ladder Park.

The many detailed plans include several decks, river overlooks, meeting spaces, expanded green space throughout and downtown river access.

Several specific plans were shared yesterday: transforming riverside lots at Monroe Avenue NW and Trowbridge Street NW into green space with an event pavilion and river access; extending the river trail from Leonard Street to Ann Street; an amphitheater at the public museum; a logjam-inspired playground at the Coldbrook site; and conversion of the decommissioned storage tank into an event space.

The initiative is in conjunction with plans to restore the rapids in the Grand River.

The final plans are the result of years of work, including public focus groups and input from multiple organizations, including Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Grand Rapids Whitewater, Grand Rapids Public Museum and the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation department.

Nicole Horst, a principal at Denver-based Wenk Associates, has led development of the design plans and guidelines.

Local firms also working on the plans include Viridis Design Group, FTCH and Williams & Works.

Funding for the planning has come from the City of Grand Rapids and DGRI.

Horst said some of the River for All development would begin during the rapids restoration, which is expected to begin in about a year and last for several years, though it cannot be completed until after the river project is finished.

She said next steps include exploring public-private funding options.

Horst said pieces of the plan, such as building and space conversions, would need to be completed through private investment.

Since rapids restoration is expected to attract more water sports and swimming interest, Horst said local officials are working on overturning the Grand Rapids ordinance that prohibits swimming in the river.

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