Public projects across Kent, Barry, Mason and Oceana counties will receive a funding boost following today’s approval of more than $3.4 million in state funding from the Revitalization and Placemaking Program.
At a meeting today, the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved incentives for nine projects in West Michigan funded by a pool of $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act money dedicated to addressing the effects of COVID-19 in local communities.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. tapped into its regional partners, including Grand Rapids-based The Right Place Inc. that covers a 13-county area, to solicit and vet applications for funding, which were due in June. The Michigan Strategic Fund approved $3.6 million in funding for The Right Place, which will disburse the Revitalization and Placemaking Program grants to the local projects.
“We must continue to invest in bold place-making initiatives like these, that provide an incredible quality of life for Michiganders, while also serving as a magnet to retain and attract new talented people to the region,” Tim Mroz, senior vice president of community development at The Right Place, said in a statement.
The Right Place received 28 applications for more than $30 million in funding requests.
Kent County projects receiving funding included:
Grand Rapids Public Museum North Lawn Park, $800,000
Plans call for the Grand Rapids Public Museum to redevelop an underused area for public outdoor space intended as a “multigenerational gathering environment” that overlooks the Grand River.
Heartside Linear Plaza (Grand Rapids), $800,000
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. plans to convert an underutilized alley into a pedestrian linear plaza to connect downtown to the Studio Park Piazza and serve as outdoor seating areas for restaurants along Ionia Avenue. The space will include outdoor cafe seating, landscaping, trees, and enhanced lighting.
Cedar Springs Downtown Pocket Park, $212,500
The City of Cedar Springs plans to convert a vacant lot on Main Street into activated outdoor space with art, an outdoor gas firepit, food truck parking and pop-up retail. The additional area will help add more outdoor dining options for local restaurants, which have limited space because of the prevalence of zero-setback lots in the city’s downtown.
Sparta Town Square: Phase 2, $363,375
The first phase of the Village of Sparta’s Town Square focused on converting underused parking space into four new retail incubator spaces. The second phase proposes to add various public improvements to the space, including cross walks, bike racks and outdoor winter fire pits, with a goal of increase pedestrian access and safety.
Eastown Public Art & Safety Project (Grand Rapids), $8,500
Uptown GR plans to install lighting, public art, and planters to reactivate an alleyway in the Eastown neighborhood that aims to curb after-hours disturbances and vandalism that have taken place since the start of the pandemic.
Other projects receiving funding were the Getty Park Renovation in Shelby ($552,500) to add a universal playground and various outdoor amenities, the 100 South project in Ludington ($500,863) to permanently improve a vacant alleyway for outdoor seating and dining, the Scottville Optimist Park & Sculpture Project ($179,704) to renovate one of the only public outdoor gathering spaces in the city and a formerly used bandshell, and the Middleville Amphitheater Activation & Art Walk ($21,250) that will enhance an existing downtown gathering space with seating and public art.
“Every community has underutilized, vacant, or abandoned spaces in need of reactivation,” Mroz stated. “It’s time to breathe new post-COVID life into these spaces, creating public outdoor destinations and enhancing a community’s sense of place.”