The Grand Rapids Downtown Market is not only beautiful, but it’s positioned to be a catalyst for bringing back yet another marginal downtown neighborhood. Winning a sustainability award is just icing on the cake, especially on the heels of celebrating the Downtown Market’s USGBC LEED Gold certification. It’s refreshing to see that Todd Dittman and everyone at Association of Retail Environments (ARE) values sustainability and has established an award category to celebrate these types of projects.

Sustainability is saving an entire neighborhood and securing its success for more revitalization. When Hugh A. Boyd Architects and Progressive AE started planning and designing the Downtown Market, six existing buildings were either going to be leveraged as structures or recycled as building components. Ultimately the great wood beams from those buildings were incorporated into the final finish materials, giving the Downtown Market the warm character it has today. I remember when the design team determined the significance of the existing buildings, and balanced that vision with the economics of reuse and optimal design. So while the materials won over the structures, the history of the site was still preserved. Genius.

The Story Behind the Downtown Market from Grand Rapids Downtown Market on Vimeo.

Birgit Klohs and the group at The Right Place are charged with bringing new businesses into Grand Rapids, and I don’t believe that many people know how important Birgit’s work is or how we all benefit from it. The Downtown Market is a valuable recruitment tool for Grand Rapids, as is the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Talented professionals and businesses looking to relocate truly value these cultural assets. I know that the Art Museum design was one of the factors that helped pull in Dana Friis-Hansen, Grand Rapids Art Museum CEO & Director, from Texas to Michigan.

Kudos to our community leaders who had the foresight to understand all great cities have a downtown urban market. I’m always impressed how local businesses can create public/private ventures to enhance our community and reinforce our West Michigan values. The Downtown Market is just one of many assets that Grand Rapids has to offer. Over the years I’ve watched great leaders like Peter Secchia, David Frey, Dick DeVos, Diana Sieger, John Canepa and so many more, vision far into the future to determine the sustainability of Grand Rapids [watch video] – whether that be economic, cultural, social, educational or lifestyle. What a great place to call home!

Related Links:

ARE Project of the Year: Downtown Market

MLive: Downtown Market Wins Top National Award for Sustainable Retail Design

Grand Rapids Business Journal: Downtown Market Wins Gold

Architectural Record