Final Draft GR Forward Community Plan and Investment Strategy
All documents in PDF format.
GR Forward is a community plan and investment strategy that envisions the future of Downtown and the Grand River – two of the city and region’s strongest assets. Facilitated by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI), the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), GR Forward is meant to be a roadmap to guide change and direct investment in the coming years. With a focus on Downtown, the Grand River and improving public schools through efforts to reimagine the Grand Rapids Public Schools Central Campus and establish a new Museum School, GR Forward encompasses three planning efforts in one.
GR Forward launched in April of 2014 with the goal of creating a community-driven plan fueled by a robust public outreach initiative. The outreach process broadened the reach of GR Forward by deploying innovative methods for inviting the public into the process including community surveys, focus groups, neighborhood meetings, an active online presence, public forums and an open house that repurposed a vacant storefront for two months. The process and engagement were overseen and enhanced by four steering committees comprised of 145 citizen members. In total, more than 360 events, involving over 4,400 Grand Rapidians were held during the GR Forward process.
The same collaborative spirit that shaped the initial outreach for GR Forward also underpinned the public review process. Starting with the release of the draft plan on July 2, 2015, more than 50 events and presentations were scheduled with key stakeholders to review the content in GR Forward and solicit feedback to improve the plan. This included a fourth round of neighborhood meetings, more than 30 meetings with organizational and community leaders, a second Open House staged at DGRI, and a variety of media appearances. Copies of the draft plan were also posted at all Grand Rapids public libraries, City Hall, the Development Center and MadCap Coffee, and were available online at the DGRI, City of Grand Rapids, and GR Forward websites.
The Planning Commission reviewed the draft document on July 23, 2015 and voted in support of forwarding the plan to the City Commission. On August 11, 2015, the plan was accepted by the City Commission for review and comment, and the plan was distributed for public comment. The public review period generated more than 750 comments.
After the expiration of the required public comment period, the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Board of Advisors, the Downtown Development Authority and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority all voted unanimously to approve GR Forward and forward to the City Commission for adoption. Following this, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on November 12, 2015 and also voted unanimously in support of forwarding the plan to the City Commission for adoption as part of the City’s Master Plan. The City Commission adopted the plan on December 15, 2015.