Local projects receive grants from The Right Place.

September 8, 2022

Local projects receive grants from The Right Place.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has announced that The Right Place, Inc. will receive $3.6 million in funding from the Revitalization and Placemaking (RAP) Program to help spur the development of nine placemaking projects totaling over $10 million across the region. The funds were approved in Lansing at a special Michigan Strategic Fund meeting.

RAP is an incentive program that deployed $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to address the COVID-19 impacts in Michigan communities.

Local recipients include City of Ludington Downtown Development Authority, City of Scottville Downtown Development Authority and Village of Shelby. 

Ludington: 100 South project, $500,863: The City of Ludington and the Ludington Downtown Development Authority plan to permanently improve the alleyway between James Street and Rath Avenue on the south side of downtown. 

During the pandemic, the alleyway became a seating area for take-out and outdoor dining. It was closed to vehicular traffic and became much more pedestrian friendly. This project will make the space permanently pedestrian friendly and it close to vehicular traffic, making is safer for the public to access businesses. It will also have safe, socially distanced seating areas for use by patrons of local eateries to enjoy. The project will also utilize green infrastructure in its design. 

Scottville Optimist Park and Sculpture Project, $179,704: The City of Scottville and the Scottville Downtown Development Authority are developing The Scottville Optimist Park & Sculpture project which includes the former Scottville Optimist building and Scottville Clown Band Shell. 

Shelby Getty Park Renovation, $552,500: The Village of Shelby plans to renovate Getty Park, a forgotten and underutilized public space. The revitalized park will have a universal designed playground, splash pad, basketball court, pickleball courts, tennis court, bathroom/pavilion with a fire feature, and a gazebo/bandshell. The last time Getty Park was improved was in 1992, and the park has been underutilized since the late 1990s.

Other projects receiving funding:

  • Middleville Amphitheater Activation & Art Walk Village of Middleville (Barry) – $21,250
  • Cedar Springs Downtown Pocket Park City of Cedar Springs (Kent) – $212,500
  • Grand Rapids Public Museum North Lawn Park City of Grand Rapids (Kent) – $800,000
  • Eastown Public Art & Safety Project City of Grand Rapids (Kent) – $8,500
  • Heartside Linear Plaza City of Grand Rapids (Kent) – $800,000
  • Sparta Town Square: Phase 2 Village of Sparta (Kent) – $363,375

Total Grant Award Amount for nine Projects: $3,438,691

Tim Mroz, Senior Vice President of Community Development at The Right Place, led the application process on behalf of the West Michigan communities applying for funds. Applications were due in June. The Right Place is working with MEDC to coordinate disbursement of the funds to the grantees.

“We are eager to assist these projects with this RAP funding and excited to see the outcomes from these placemaking initiatives,” said Mroz. “This $3 million in funding will spur more than $10 million in placemaking project investments. 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. ”

Working alongside its regional and municipal partners throughout West Michigan, The Right Place solicited potential projects from a 13-county area. In total, the organization received 28 regional placemaking applications from 7 counties, totaling over $30 million. An internal team then evaluated all 28 applications, scoring each one in accordance with the priorities set forth by the MEDC. In the end, 9 placemaking projects were selected from 4 different counties with new, innovative ideas to reactivate lost, underutilized, or vacant spaces.

The RAP program provides access to real estate and place-based infrastructure development gap financing through grants of up to $5 million per project for real estate rehabilitation and development, grants of up to $1 million per project for public space improvements and grants of up to $20 million to local or regional partners who develop a coordinated subgrant program.

Eligible applicants were individuals or entities working to rehabilitate vacant, underutilized, blighted, and historic structures and the development of permanent place-based infrastructure associated with traditional downtowns, social-zones, outdoor dining and placed-based public spaces. The RAP program awarded funding to eligible applicants based on one or more competitive application rounds.

A recent study published in the Economic Development Journal, “How COVID-19 Reshaped the Battle for Talent,” centered on a national survey of more than 1,000 working-age people who moved during the first year of the pandemic. The primary trigger causing people to move was Quality of Life. And when the researchers explored the respondent’s definition of Quality of Life, Outdoor Recreation was second only to Good Schools as the most important lifestyle factors. This idea was the driving force behind The Right Place’s regional subgrant application, ““Reactivating Spaces – Reactivating underutilized and vacant community spaces.”

“Every community has underutilized, vacant, or abandoned spaces in need of reactivation,” Mroz adds. “The concept behind this grant project is to proactively re-engage those spaces in communities the forgotten corridors, the sorely underutilized downtown areas, even community parks that have been overlooked for years. It’s time to breathe new post-COVID life into these spaces, creating public outdoor destinations and enhancing a community’s sense of place.”

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