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The DeVos/Grand Action 2.0 Amphitheater will officially be run by the Kent County Convention Arena Authority

November 15, 2022

We first heard about the plans for a 14,000 seat outdoor amphitheater back in October of 2020, when Grand Action 2.0 first announced the plans.

We have also written the following articles as this project has unfolded:

Grand Rapids invests over $6 million for private development in downtown, while Southeast Grand Rapids experiences disinvestment: We call this Structural Racism

Grand Action 2.0 speaker provides update on new development vision for Grand Rapids: Whiteness, Grand Rapids as a destination and Disaster Capitalism

DeVos controlled Amphitheater Project using public money will be voted on at the February 9th Grand Rapids City Commission meeting 

How is it that we allow groups like Grand Action 2.0 to get away with the shit they do?

Millions for an Amphitheater, while tens of thousands in Grand Rapids face poverty, eviction and structural racism

DeVos-led Amphitheater Project will likely receive $30 Million in State public money, with no public input 

Tuesday morning, during the Grand Rapids City Commission Committee Meeting of the Whole, City Officials approved the mission statement of the Amphitheater, which you can read about in the Committee of the Whole Agenda packet, pages 9 – 11. 

Before getting to the mission statement, it is important to look at what real function the Amphitheater will play. On page 9 of the agenda packet, it reads:

“The property that the City will sell to the CAA is part of a larger corridor redevelopment plan, which will include a mix of uses, public access to the riverfront, and other features reflecting the Grand River’s restoration as a key place-making opportunity for the city. 

The CAA and City continue to make progress on the steps necessary to complete the purchase, including creation of separate parcels dividing the city-owned property into smaller parcels for sale. Design and financial planning for the amphitheater continues through a partnership of Grand Action 2.0, the DDA/DGRI, the City, the CAA and other stakeholders.” 

To be clear, this project has always been about re-developing the Market Avenue corridor, from Fulton St. all the way down to Godfrey SW. There are already plans to turn an old warehouse into high end apartments, with plans to include lots of restaurants and other commercial establishments along that route.

You also can see from the above text that City Officials are using the “place-making” terminology, which was widely adopted by cities across the country after Richard Florida wrote his 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class. Since then, Florida’s ideas have received a ton of criticism, mostly with the claim that his ideas helped to usher in a new wave of gentrification throughout North America. Florida even acknowledge this reality, with his 2018 book entitled, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It. Unfortunately, Grand Rapids City Officials have yet to acknowledge that gentrification exists in Beer City USA.

The last thing worth pointing about about the text is the listing of the now normalized Public/Private partnership group involved in the Amphitheater plans, even though there is the mysterious “other stakeholders” listed. Stakeholders is nothing more than code for people and organizations with power that primarily function to maintain economic dominance and political power. 

Amphitheater Mission Statement

To encourage economic development within the West Michigan region, create jobs and provide a facility for entertainment, enjoyment and benefit of the residents in an economical manner with a priority of facility fiscal responsibility through the delivery of  events that are primarily entertainment related with a secondary emphasis on artistic and community activities and public events.

The mission statement includes all of the usual vagueness of mission statements, like create jobs and benefit all residents. They never clarify if these new jobs will pay a living wage, with benefits nor do they provide any clarity on the cost of admission for a concert or other entertainment-based events.

The mission statement for the Amphitheater is nothing more than the latest project in a continuing effort to transform downtown Grand Rapids into a playground for the privileged and a destination place for tourism. It will primarily provide economic benefits for those who are already economically well off, plus the ongoing development is likely to impact the Grandville Avenue corridor and the Black Hills neighborhood. I’m not someone who gambles, but I would bet on who the real beneficiaries of the Amphitheater project will be in 5 to 10 years.

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