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City of Grand Rapids Mixed-Use Commercial Zone Districts

City Of Grand Rapids   
Urban | Suburban |
The city code of Grand Rapids, Michigan provides for several different types of mixed-use districts under the overarching category known as mixed-use commercial zone districts. Grand Rapids is located on the Grand River, about 30 miles east of Lake Michigan, and the city has a population of approximately 193,627 people. In 2007, the city adopted a master planning process called “Green Grand Rapids,” and created a new zoning ordinance that incorporated tenets of Transit Oriented Development, LEED criteria and Smart Growth principles.

Under the ordinance, each of the mixed-use zones implement building design requirements that are intended to reduce automobile dependence by encouraging alternative methods of transportation such as biking, walking and transit. The majority of the mixed-use zones require that street-level building facades have a minimum transparency of 60% of the wall area in order to add to pedestrian visual interest. Metal may only be used on facades for beams, lintels, trim elements and ornamentation, and there is to be no covering of stone or brick facades already in existence with any artificial siding or panels. In each zone, a building may be awarded a height-bonus (more stories that the statutory maximum) for fulfilling certain criteria – and the criteria are related to creating a more sustainable community. For example, in the TN-TBA and TN-TOD districts, if a development devotes at least 50% of the site to urban open space with direct public access from the sidewalk at ground level, there is a 2-story height increase bonus.

The mixed-use zones are categorized in the following manner: TN-CC (traditional neighborhood city center zone) has the purpose of enhancing the vitality of the existing downtown area while improving pedestrian circulation; TN-TBA (traditional neighborhood business area zone district) intends to increase density with small-scale retail, entertainment, service and office uses on the ground floor and residences located on the upper floors; TN-TOD (traditional neighborhood transit-oriented development) aims to cluster ground-level retail uses with upper-level residences along for the purpose of creating a shopping destination with neighborhood activity along transit route; MCN-C (mid-20th century neighborhood commercial zone); MON-C (modern era neighborhood commercial zone); SD-NOS (neighborhood office service special district). Each district shares the goal of encouraging a pedestrian-friendly environment with increased transit use by providing for a mixture of commercial and high-density residential uses.