The graph also states that 11,203 people now live in the downtown area, although Kris Larson, executive director of the DDA, believes that number includes nearby neighborhoods, and he pegs the actual current number of those living in the downtown to be about 5,750.
"In three years, we'd be lucky to introduce an additional I'd say 500 at the low end, 1,000 at the high end, because you're solely constrained by supply," he
But regardless of which downtown neighborhoods get counted and which don't, both Schulz and Larson
agreed that their numbers still consistently show the same trend: Grand Rapids is growing.
About 77 percent of America's millennials prefer to live in an urban environment, Larson
said, adding that any city with economic development ambition is trying to find ways to attract millenials to choose to live in their downtowns.
"The reality of the fact is that Grand Rapids is not competing with Fort Wayne and Lansing...
This is a mistake that some people make when they're comparing themselves; they're comparing themselves with comparable cities," he
That lack of mixed diversity, both culturally and financially, could become an economic problem, Larson
"You don't just want a lot of six-figure-income earners living in downtown," Larson
has been busy tackling this problem partly by trying to find available land downtown for conversion.
especially fond of parking lots, many of which are underused for the amount of space they take up, he
also has encountered what he
believes is a second major obstacle keeping people from moving downtown: the education system.
The two largest demographics of people living in downtown - millennials and baby boomers - are both groups who, generally speaking, are not currently raising children at home, he
said, and many of the families that do have children want to move their kids out of the downtown and into the suburban school systems.
"Education is that one variable where we don't excel in here in downtown.
It's one we need to make improvements on," he
"I think we're going to continue to see things like single people get married, have kids and choose to stay in downtown, which is why we are very much proponents of improving the access to quality education downtown.
That has been a dynamic that when I moved here two years ago, I kept hearing, and, frankly, (it's) frustrating to hear."
In the end, bold developers building and renovating downtown residential will be what brings the population downtown, and a population downtown will be what brings the retail, Larson
hopeful that when the downtown population hits 10,000, a grocery store will get built somewhere, though he's
convinced a pharmacy will get built sooner.