Planning Projects:

The Planning Department has three planning projects underway with the help of consultants who are nationally recognized as of the best in their field.

Volk/Zimmerman Residential Market Analysis | Planning Support Software | Transect Study

Volk/Zimmerman Residential Market Analysis

This analysis answers the question: would apartments above stores, townhouses, live work units, bungalows and edge houses/mansions – placed in a traditional urban setting – actually sell. The answer is a definite yes. To the extent of over 3000 units a year in Kent and Ottawa Counties .

The Volk/Zimmerman (VZ) method differs from many other market studies in that they study the existing household types which are the likely housing buyers. The housing preferences of the wide variety of household types is known, so a conservative estimate of demand can be made. These housing types in these types of street and block settings are almost not available as new structures in the metro area. Builders must have some confidence that they will sell before they can risk developing this way. Studies done by VZ in other U.S. cities have proved accurate if not too conservative and opened up new markets that were previously unmet.

The executive summary can be downloaded:   

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INDEX Planning Software Project

The second project is with Criterion Inc. for the development of the planning software application described below. The first product – called “Paint the Towns”, has been delivered. Staff planners will begin training in the use of that tool and the more sophisticated tool, “Planbuilder,” will begin in a few months. The detailed scope of the project can be reviewed in the document: Qualifications Statement: Planning Support Software

Description of the project from the Request for Proposals:

“Produce a reliable software application based on ESRI’s Arc 8 GIS software which will use indicators to guide practitioners in the creation of community plans, to measure the performance of those plans, and to evaluate proposed developments and alternatives. The software must be capable of operating in the REGIS ( GVMC regional gis) environment. There should be indicators for transit use, and environmental impacts on air and water. Output should be transferable to transportation planning modeling software. (More specific indicators may be chosen from a list provided by the consultant.) The software application must be open to users, such that weighting and ranking of factors can be changed. The application should be useful at the levels of region, multiple jurisdictions, one jurisdiction or neighborhood. The application should be compatible with the development types which will be described in a concurrent “transect” study.”

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Alternative Urban Development Standards – The Pattern Book

The third project is with Farr Associates for the laying out of alternative land development standards. In August teams measured and photographed sites nominated as the best in the region. A draft of the initial results will be evaluated in early November. The detailed proposal and contract can be viewed in this file: GVMC Transect Study .

Description of the project from the Request for Statement of Qualifications:

“ Grand Valley Metropolitan Council requests statements of qualifications from consulting firms who might be able to examine, measure and describe the normative standards for development in the Grand Valley metropolitan area along a continuum from rural to most urban. This continuum is becoming known as the transect of urban/rural character.

“This project’s purpose is to enable the development of walkable and diverse community centers. Specifically it is meant to provide standards which will help local governments to develop form based zoning codes and street design guidelines.

“A part of this work will be to develop a “palette” of street types that support walkable, diverse and compact neighborhoods and regional form; and which fit the normative development patterns found in the region.”


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