Neighborhood volunteers hope to revive State Street with ‘Build A Better Block’ project – MLIVE

GRAND RAPIDS, MI –Just a few blocks long, State Street SE seems to have missed out on all the redevelopment in Heritage Hill at one end and the revitalization of downtown at its other end.

The street’s pavement is beat up and leads commuters past a couple of small city parks and a hodge podge of party stores, office buildings and parking lots in between.

A group of neighborhood volunteers hope to improve the street’s fortunes this spring by hosting a two-day event called “Build a Better Block: re:State.”

Held on the weekend of the annual spring Heritage Hill Tour of Homes, May 18-19, the event will create a variety of “pop-up shops” and demonstration projects aimed at temporarily transforming the street into retail corridor rather than a neighborhood connector.

Lynee Wells, an urban planner and project manager for Williams and Works, said they hope to gauge reaction to a variety of different uses that could be located along the street, whose history dates backs to the pre-urban days, when it served as a trail for Native Americans.

Pop-up developments will include shops, food truck walls and reused shipping containers, park improvements, bus shelters decorated by local artists, bike lanes, crosswalks, rainwater retention islands and signage improvements.

A Rapid bus will be on hand to help residents better understand how to use the transit system, according to the organizers.

“Quite frankly, I think this is a tremendous opportunity to explore the concept of an urban laboratory,” said Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Director Kris Larson. The DDA is contributing $15,000 towards the project.

The “Build A Better Block” program is patterned after similar programs that have been successful in the Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas area, according to the organizers.

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