The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a funding tool Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) administers to help catalyze public and private investment in Grand Rapids’ urban core. The DDA Board of Directors met June 13, 2018 and considered the following matters:

Approved FY 2019 Budget

The DDA Board today approved the $11.7 million Fiscal Year 2019 budget outlining planned investments to, among other actions, revitalize the Grand River, improve the Downtown parks system and enhance the Downtown transportation network to make it safer, easier and more affordable for people to get around. The Grand Rapids City Commission approved the DDA budget recommendation on May 22, 2018. The FY2019 budget begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through June 30, 2019. Learn more about the FY 2019 budget here.

Extended DASH Transit Contract

The Board today approved a one-year extension of the partnership with the City of Grand Rapids to provide DASH transit services in Downtown. The City’s Mobile GR Department will completely rebrand DASH later this year, adjust routing and significantly expand services hours, including late night service on weekends. The City and DDA will revisit their agreement, and assess the need for any modifications to the contract, after these service changes take effect and the partners evaluate how the “new” DASH system performs.

Support for GRPS Museum School Renovation

The DDA today approved a contribution not to exceed $52,000 to support public space improvements around the new Grand Rapids Public Schools Museum School at 54 Jefferson. These improvements include sidewalk repairs, landscaping and enhancements to the pocket park at the intersection of Jefferson and State streets. The new Museum School is scheduled to open for students in August 2018.

Approved Retail Incubation Initiative

The Board today authorized the DDA Executive Director to enter in to a strategic initiative with two local businesses aimed at:

  • Diversifying the mix of Downtown retail offerings,
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and small local business growth; and
  • Supporting creative public space activation which potentially serves as a new model for street food.

Tamales Mary, a Mexican restaurant based in Wyoming, MI, and Move Systems, a manufacturer of Mobile food “carts” based in Walker, MI, propose to introduce authentic tamales to the street food scene in Downtown Grand Rapids. Move Systems will customize and lease a mobile food cart to support the expansion of Tamales Mary.

Tamales Mary employees will operate the cart with food preparation and cooking support from their commissary kitchen. Taking advantage of the City’s pilot food truck ordinance, Tamales Mary will vend in numerous public spaces around Downtown.

This will be Tamales Mary’s first venture in Downtown and Move System’s, which operates a fleet of carts in NewYork City, first venture in the State of Michigan. The partners have organized a 6-month pilot to test the market for tamales in Downtown GR.

The total cost of the initiative is $61,150. With the DDA Board’s approval, the partners will utilize $31,575 in DDA retail incubation funds to help underwrite the cost of the venture.

Tamales Mary will deploy in Downtown in July 2018 and the partners will evaluate the business performance at the end of the year.

Approved Public Information Initiative

The DDA today approved a public information initiative focused on visitor car parking. The campaign aims to inform likely Downtown visitors about parking solutions and know-before-you-go type tips that empower visitors to improve their parking experience. The initiative will launch in the fall of 2018 in collaboration with Mobile GR and Media Place Partners.

Weston Street Reconstruction Support

The Board today approved support for the reconstruction on Weston Street. The project features enhancements including, but not limited to, new street lighting, street trees, pavement markings and new sidewalks. The Board approved $362,000 investment in the project.

Grandville Avenue Gateway Enhancement

The DDA today approved an investment of $50,000 towards public art at the Grandville Avenue Gateway in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood. This investment enables the completion of a mural and gateway sign along the Grandville Ave. corridor featuring work done by local artist, George H. Eberhardt III. The artist plans to kick off mural painting in July in the run up to a community celebration expected to take place in August.

Little Bird Monroe Center Enhancement Grant

The Board today approved a Downtown Enhancement Grant for outdoor dining at the Little Bird restaurant located at 95 Monroe Center. This grant enables Little Bird to install new tables and planter boxes that enhance the experience for both outdoor diners and people walking along Monroe Center. The Board approved a DDA investment not to exceed $5,000.

MeXo Fulton Street Enhancement Grant

The Board today approved a Downtown Enhancement Grant for a parklet and outdoor amenities at MeXo located at 118 Fulton Street. The parklet will extend the sidewalk and activate the space on Fulton Street with outdoor dining amenities, planters and benches. The Board approved a DDA investment not to exceed $10,000.