First Public Forum for Michigan Street Corridor Plan
Press release from the City of Grand Rapids:
The community will be asked to share ideas with city planners and consultants on Wednesday, October 19th on the issues and opportunities they see in and around the Michigan Street Corridor. The goal of the meeting is to begin to collect information that will help shape what the future vision of the area will be. As part of the meeting format, there will be several presentations that highlight recent consultant findings on housing, employment and transportation data collected from near neighborhoods and institutions. "I think that a lot of people will be very surprised by what they hear," said Suzanne Schulz, City of Grand Rapids Planning Director, "the consultant findings are fascinating." Forum participants will have the opportunity to discuss what is presented.
The study area is a four–mile long corridor, stretching from the Grand River to the East Beltline and from Leonard to Fulton Streets, with some components of the study including St. Mary's Hospital campus. Seven urban neighborhoods with 20,000 residents, numerous local businesses, and the region's major "anchor institutions" are located there. Anchor institutions are significant educational or medical facilities such as Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, St. Mary's Hospital and Spectrum Health.
The Michigan Street Corridor is regionally significant and nationally unique. There are 50,000 people who are employed or go to school within a 50-acre area. "We have yet to see this kind of concentration of anchor institutions within such a small area in our experience with communities throughout the United States" said George Smith of U3 Ventures, a consultant working on the project.
"One goal is to determine how the community can leverage the human capital that is there every day into something bigger that can lead to investment and economic growth in Grand Rapids. For example,
Michigan Street is a very important transportation corridor, carrying up to 31,000 cars per day. "We've seen a billion dollars of investment in the corridor in the last decade. The challenge now is to understand how we can accommodate the next billion in growth and not impede it with insufficient infrastructure," said Schulz. "We will be looking at the best ways to create a safe and efficient transportation network, and determine the best land uses for the area that will allow for institutional growth - but also preserve the livability of the neighborhoods that surround the corridor."
The study is being led by a 40-member steering committee comprised of representatives from the city, transit agency, medical facilities, universities and colleges, county, metro council, business association, downtown development authority, neighborhood associations, business representatives, community members and environmental interests.
"We're really excited that we've been able to bring in some top firms to help us with this project," Schulz said. "Their expertise, combined with the connections and talent on the Steering Committee and a robust public engagement process, are going to produce a targeted, implementable vision for the future of this Corridor."
Details about the October 19 symposium will be available on the upcoming project website, as well as on the Planning Department's webpage, at www.grcity.us/planning.