Grand River Corridor Implementation Plan and River Trail Design Guidelines

Grand Rapids, MI

A ‘River for All’

The City of Grand Rapids has through decades of planning processes recognized the value of the Grand River as an important natural asset.  Through years of city-wide, citizen-driven planning initiatives, the community has developed a clear and broadly supported vision for the future of the Grand River Corridor to transform the river from an underutilized asset into a distinct civic amenity delivering far- reaching regional economic, environmental, and social benefits.  The forward-thinking strategy for the river corridor will create a safer waterway, protect vulnerable homes and businesses from flooding, leverage substantial private investment in new development, and revitalize the dividing river of east and west into a central gathering place for the entire community to enjoy.

Wenk Associates led a multi-disciplinary team to build upon previous planning efforts and develop design guidelines for trails, parks, and open spaces along a 7.5-mile segment of the Grand River and generate schematic designs for six new public parks along the riverfront.  A robust public participation program involved residents and stakeholders spanning all quadrants of the community, ensuring that many voices were represented during the process.

The graphic-intensive design guidelines manual serves as a "menu list" to guide City staff, private developers, and decision makers in creating a cohesive river corridor trail system that is integrated into the diverse character districts along the corridor, and accessible. The plan capitalizes on the future ‘rapids’ restoration efforts to expand recreation opportunities along the corridor, and provides guidance to create a connected network of diverse upland, riparian, and riverine habitat areas. Concept designs were completed on six river-adjacent opportunity sites that demonstrate how the guidelines might be implemented to create public spaces that activate the river corridor. 


City of Grand Rapids




Wenk Associates, Inc.  Lead Consultant
Viridis Design Group  Local Landscape Architect
Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. (FTCH)  Civil Engineering
Williams & Works  Public Outreach
ETM Associates, LLC  Asset Management