The Urban Land Institute to Advise Grand Rapids, Michigan on Expanding Parks and Open Space

Nationally Renowned Land Use and Urban Planning Experts to Visit the Community March 25-27

For more information, contact: Trisha Riggs at 202-624-7086;

WASHINGTON (March 21, 2019) – A group of land use, urban design and real estate experts representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will be visiting the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan March 25-27 to provide strategic advice on expanding the availability of parks and open space in the First and Third Wards of the city.

ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 42,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving, sustainable communities. The study visit to Grand Rapids is being conducted in conjunction with the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a national movement striving to ensure that residents of urban neighborhoods throughout America have access to a high-quality park within a ten-minute walk from their homes. The 10-Minute Walk Campaign, which has been endorsed by over 230 mayors, involves a partnership between the Urban Land Institute, The Trust for Public Land, and the National Recreation and Park Association.

The main objective of the study visit is to provide recommendations on land use and development challenges and opportunities in the targeted neighborhoods, including strategies, tools and next steps to achieve the additional open space. In addition, study visit participants will offer recommendations on future acquisitions of land for parks and open space across the city. Participants will be asked to consider several factors, including:

• The optimal location for new parks to ensure that all existing residents are within a 10-minute walk to the space;
• Options for size and placement that would have the largest impact on equitable park access;
• Specific properties that would be ideal for future park space;
• Consideration of the city’s growth patterns to plan for future parks; and
• Consideration of land values to guide the budget for future park space acquisitions.

During the week, the participants will tour park-deficient areas in First and Third Wards and interview a range of stakeholders, including public- and private-sector representatives, property owners, and neighborhood representatives. After carefully analyzing the sites and completing the interviews, the participants will form their recommendations and present them during a public event at the conclusion of the visit.

Leading ULI member Melani V. Smith, senior director of Transit Oriented Communities, Los Angeles Metro, and an adjunct faculty member with the Sol Price School of Planning at the University of Southern California, is chairing the study visit. “We are excited to bring ULI’s expertise on expanding the availability of parks and open space to the city of Grand Rapids,” Smith said. “Public spaces serve important roles as community amenities as well as catalysts for economic development. When programmed and operated to reflect local community needs, these spaces become important hubs of civic life in ways that address issues of inclusion, equity, and wellness.”

Smith will be joined on the study visit by Rachel Banner, senior program manager, National Recreation and Park Association; Ryan P. Cambridge, planning practice leader and senior associate, Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf; Juan Cano, founder, Cano Development ; Darryl Ford, senior management analyst, City of Los Angeles; Douglas W. Hattaway, senior project manager of Florida programs, The Trust for Public Land; Erin Lonoff, principal, HR&A; and Jon Trementozzi, principal, Landwise.

The study visit participants will be working closely with ULI Michigan, which serves ULI members throughout the state, to develop the recommendations.

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: The study visit participants will be making their recommendations during a public presentation on March 27, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Commission Chambers of the Grand Rapids City Hall.

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