Back To Basics with Green, Welcoming Spaces

Workers in downtown Grand Rapids, MI, will plant thousands of flowers and shrubs along with hundreds of trees this year.

“It’s incredibly important for a lot of reasons,” says Melvin Eledge, director of operations at Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. “We saw during the pandemic how important green spaces and beautiful places are to people. It was always important, of course, but the pandemic really underscored it.”

“When people come downtown, they want downtown to look clean and beautiful and vibrant. ’Fresh’ is a word we hear a lot,” says Eledge.

Downtown Grand Rapids expects to install some 46,000 plants over the course of the year. The plantings include bright flowers in the summer and decorative greenery in the winter. The organization has also been adding trees with a goal of covering 10 percent of downtown with tree canopy to help mitigate stormwater runoff and reduce the urban heat island effect.

The investment brings a return, Eledge says. Cultivating lush greenery helps create a sense of calmness and of place.

Details on how Downtown Grand Rapids finances its landscaping appears in the July issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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