Build a Better Block project gets nod of approval from Grand Rapids DDA
Caroline MacGregor February 13, 2013 | WGVU “This Better Block model fit with the way I was thinking how we should evolve in terms of our discourse about planning issues and move from conversation to getting our hands dirty and making change.”
Lynee Wells is
an urban planner with Williams and Works. She is currently involved in a
project to rebuild and reinvigorate urban core areas of cities like Grand
Rapids. She and Josh Leffingwell and Tyler Doornbos with Friendly Corps presented
their Build a Better Block initiative to DDA officials Wednesday. The project
aims to promote community engagement to transform a portion of State Street in
“State Street is interesting because it straddles Heritage Hill and the Heartside business district boundaries so this is an opportunity for two neighborhood/business districts to collaborate.”
about the BBB idea over a year ago and thought it would be a great way to get residents
of Grand Rapids involved in a hands-on project to upgrade the city. The long
term goal is to inspire developers and building owners to make permanent
changes to their neighborhood.
The block project will be held the weekend of
May 18-19 - the same week as the Heritage Hill Home Tour. Wells says it’s a
great opportunity to link the two events as the home tour brings in people from
all over the city.
“It is open to anyone and everyone, we are going to have activities for all ages, all abilities - it's truly going to bring people from all over the city, people who work for St.Mary's, people who own property around State Street and all sides of our community that can see the difference we can make in one weekend and take those ideas back to their own community.”
Over the next
month, organizers will work with property owners to come up with a list of
upgrades for the corridor – this could include painting crosswalks, pedestrian
improvements and modifications to bus stops and shelters to make them more
dynamic as well as retail efforts.
The group will partner with Friends of GR
Parks for their “Parks Alive” weekend. Wells says its important constituents and
stakeholders have a voice in the project. Now that they have the support of
city leaders, three committees will be formed to focus on planning, promotions
and programming. The groups will meet twice a month. More information on Better
Block GR can be found on www.betterblockgr.com.
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