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August 21 will be Walker’s third of four open house events.

A sign that reads “Welcome to Downtown Standale – City of Walker” at the Northeast corner of Lake Michigan Drive / M-45 and Wilson Avenue / M-11 is viewed by nearly 30,000 motorists moving east and west at this intersection each day. What does this message mean to those who live, work, shop, and recreate in, and commute through, this district? The City of Walker hopes to gain a wide variety of insights as it facilitates its Standale community open house event on Wednesday, August 21st at 5:00 PM at the City’s Fire Station #2 Facility.

The Standale “neighborhood cluster” is a focus area which broadly includes the portions of Walker extending from roughly Leonard Street (north) to roughly O’Brien Street (south), and from Tallmadge Township in Ottawa County (west) to the City of Grand Rapids (east). About 30% of Walker’s roughly 24,600 residents live in the Standale neighborhood cluster, according to 2018 census estimates. 

Several themes emerge as the discussion of Standale’s future draws near on August 21st :

  • Residential growth. The 868-lot Chesterfield Heights subdivision north of Lake Michigan Drive / M-45 was approved in 1928. This subdivision and many other homes were built over the course of nine decades. Apartments and townhome condominiums now under construction will bring new residents to the area. The City looks to manage this growth and find appropriate solutions for designing growth into the fabric of existing neighborhoods.
  • Growth and enhancement of businesses. Rebuilding efforts following a devastating 1956 tornado laid the foundation for small businesses that define the stretch of Lake Michigan Drive between Kinney Avenue and Wilson Avenue. Along and to the west of Wilson Avenue / M-11, roughly 100 acres of property extending ½ mile south of Lake Michigan Drive remain undeveloped. As older, small-scale businesses transition to larger commercial and mixed-use sites from east to west, the City seeks guidance on how these sites should relate to one another, relate to nearby homes, and flourish.
  • Grand Valley State University (GVSU) impacts. Lake Michigan Drive / M-45 functions as a conduit between GVSU’s Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses. GVSU is a strong presence in Standale with many of its students and faculty living in and commuting within its borders.
  • A center of culture and recreation? City stakeholders seek to respond to the desire for Standale to become a place with a strong identity, building on events and public facilities in the district such as Walker’s Community Park.
  • Navigating within and traveling through the district. At the intersection of two regionally-important MDOT roads , the movement of people and goods through the Standale neighborhood must be balanced with the need to forge connections within the neighborhood. Bus rapid transit (BRT) via The Rapid’s approved and now-under-construction Laker Line BRT route will increase the efficiency of transit service to and through the neighborhood. As development continues, MDOT, the City, The Rapid, and developers will grapple with the challenge ensuring safe and responsible development patterns via  essential road connections and other transportation improvements. The Fred Meijer Standale Trail will also continue to bring cyclists into the transportation network of Standale.
  • Planning efforts: Where have we been, and where do we go? The City adopted a Standale / Downtown Walker and West Standale sub-area master plan in 2007. Broadly speaking, the plan includes large-scale planned commercial and mixed residential development west of Wilson Avenue and south of Lake Michigan Drive, and a smaller-scaled mixed use district to emerge from the existing and future built environment east of Wilson Avenue. The “Standale Downtown District” form-based zoning code and Standale Downtown District zoning extending from Wilson Avenue to Kinney Avenue emerged as an outcome of this planning effort. The City invites discussion on August 21st to explore whether new land use forms should emerge as the area continues to grow, and invites new focus on areas within the broader “Standale neighborhood cluster” which were not closely explored in the past.

 The Standale Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 21, from 5 pm to 7 pm, on the second floor of Walker’s Fire Station #2, located at 4101 Lake Michigan Dr., NW 49534. Community members are invited to participate for as much of the meeting as they would like. The open house will involve several activities that attendees can participate in at their own pace.

The Walker Planning Commission will hold their regularly scheduled meeting at 7:00 pm that night, immediately following the Open House, in the second-floor meeting room of Fire Station # 2, rather than their usual meeting location in the City’s Commission Chambers.  The Planning Commission will discuss public feedback received from the Open House. The Planning Commission will also review progress on planning efforts related to the Alpine Avenue and South Walker neighborhood clusters.

The Standale Open House will be followed by one more open house in the fall to discuss the northwestern-central part of the City.

The neighborhood cluster planning efforts will feed into a broader Walker 2040 Master Plan, which is an update of the City’s 1998 plan. The 1998 plan, which has been updated with neighborhood-level planning efforts, has guided development for over 20 years.

McKenna Associates is managing the Walker 2040 master plan out of its office in Downtown Grand Rapids, which opened in September of 2018.