Grand Rapids: Now vs. then. A Discussion.
This one always stops me in my tracks. Grand Rapids Michigan and Monroe Avenue - 80 years difference. Which would you rather?
I forget where I saw this side by side the first time, but it stopped me in my tracks. It's astounding how much Grand Rapids development has changed the landscape of our city - for the better and perhaps arguably for the not so better. Instances like this blow me away. There are so few remaining old buildings out there in the city center and so many of them have been taken down for various reasons - parking included. The new developments demand a pricetag with their commercial rental. And many times those developments aren't for passers by to enjoy, anyway. Entire blocks of downtown turn into concrete jungles where you're just passing through to reach something that you can actually enter as a shopper or diner, etc.
Not knocking the development that has been done, for that I am thankful in many ways as it's turned our city into one that is a success story post-recession. However, I do wish these mom and pop shops could still exist in harmony with what new is coming in. I just don't see where that can happen anymore as these properties disappear. And for us pedestrians, it means the walking paths become extended between those commercial districts separated by these office properties. And especially, these properties drive demand for those in cars over those on foot -- leading ultimately to the discussion at hand.