Governor Jennifer Granholm announced 20 grant recipients as a part of Michigan’s Cool City initiative. Two projects in Grand Rapids received grants of $100,000–The Avenue for the Arts Projects that includes the historic renovation of seven buildings, streetscape improvements, and the development of 35 loft apartments and The Uptown Revitalization Project that includes a retail development utilizing green technology, facade improvements, and an effort to create a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
According to the project description, “Cool Cities is about creating hot jobs in cool neighborhoods throughout Michigan. It’s about attracting and encouraging people — especially young people — to live, work and shop in the cool cities we are working hard to create together.” Without the superlatives, the Cool Cities Project began in June 2003 as a way of promoting development that would be more oriented towards young professionals.
The project will designate more grant recipients in 2005 and will continue collecting data from online surveys given to college students and post-graduation young people in order to develop resources and marketing strategies for new development projects. The project issues periodic reports of survey results, with the first report released in April.
It is also worth noting that much of the project is based on Richard Florida’s Creative Class Theory and while many have praised his theory of development driven by attracting young professionals, it has been the target of criticism both in its theory and in its practice.