Beyond the Pier

It is no secret that Grand Haven is rich in natural beauty and has built a waterfront that attracts visitors from near and far. The City of Grand Haven has invested in the waterfront over may years, whether that be through the construction of popular public amenities, such as the Waterfront Stadium or Splash Pad, or through supporting local business growth downtown or at the Farmers Market. We are fortunate to see the fruits of this investment and are now tasked with continuing these improvements throughout the downtown.

Today we dream Beyond the Pier, looking at the downtown and the waterfront as one place to live, work, and play. Let’s improve equitable waterfront access, invest in the retention and expansion of local businesses, enhance our public spaces, protect our natural features, and support economic development efforts in Downtown and along the Riverfront. Let’s create a community-based vision to guide the right type of growth and continue to support the activity and people who make this community special. Let’s dream together.

Frequently Asked Questions

The planning process for Beyond the Pier began in June of 2020 and continues today. Below are a series of frequently asked questions regarding the Waterfront Master Plan and steps for moving forward. Check out THE PLAN page to see periodic project updates.

What is Beyond the Pier?

Beyond the Pier is a planning document intended to guide development along Chinook Pier and beyond, connecting the downtown and riverfront areas. This plan identifies strategies to support local businesses, improve waterfront access, steward natural resources, and enhance economic development opportunities.

People and places naturally change. Therefore, planning must balance strategy and flexibility, providing ideas that are both robust and responsible. Area-specific plans, such as Beyond the Pier, are written to consider these factors in a specific geographic context and provide recommendations that best suit the needs of the community. Concepts identified in this plan include a new multi-use market, more waterfront and downtown dining opportunities, seasonal ice skating, street improvements and enhanced crossings, bike infrastructure, long-term infill opportunities, and more.

Visit THE PLAN to see plan highlights and draft documents.

How was this plan created?

Beyond the Pier is an update and expansion of prior Waterfront Master Plans. The removal of the former Chinook Pier Shops was a catalyst in moving forward with this plan. A timeline illustrating the ten-month planning process is shown in the graphic below.

What phase is the Plan currently in?

The Waterfront Master Plan is currently in draft form. Plan adjustments are being made based on review and feedback from the Grand Haven Waterfront Committee, Downtown Development Authority, the Historic Conservation District Commission, the Planning Commission, and the public. The revised draft will be presented to City Council for review and approval.

How will the Plan be used?

As a planning document, this plan is meant to be a guide, not a mandate. The Waterfront Master Plan identifies priorities for growth and investment and provides a conceptual framework for how these elements may manifest. This plan will aid in the assessment of opportunities as they arise and set strategic goals for short-, mid-, and long-term priorities. 

Where can I learn more about the Plan and how can I share my comments?

The Draft Waterfront Master Plan and supporting materials can be viewed on THE PLAN page of this website. Please visit the CONTACT page to let us know what you think.

What is the Request for Qualifications?

The Request for Qualifications is a separate document from the Waterfront Master Plan. The Request for Qualifications will not move forward until after the Master Plan has been completed and accepted by the City Council.

A site within the study area will be selected for a Request for Qualifications process, where conceptual plans for the property will be distributed to the development community. This document will show the vision for the site and allow for investors to respond to that vision. No developers have been engaged in this process to date.

This process is meant to jump-start short-term priority elements of the Plan with the potential for creating a public-private partnership.

Will Lot H (the corner of Franklin and 1st) be developed as part of the Request for Qualifications process?

No. Lot H is no longer being considered for the Request for Qualifications site and there are no immediate plans to develop this property. A misinterpretation of a data point from the community survey led the City to believe this site was deemed most appropriate for development. Recognizing that this data interpretation was incorrect, the City has reassessed the location for the Request for Qualifications, focusing on Chinook Pier.

What is the data error that influenced the discussion about Lot H (the corner of Franklin and 1st) to be developed?

A resident investigating the results of question number 5 of the Beyond the Pier Community Survey reached out to the City about the interpretation of this question, as her analysis differed from the conclusions presented in the publicly available Community Input Report (originally published on October 22, 2020).

This question asked “What places within the study area do you think are most ideal for future growth and development? Rank the options provided from most ideal (1) to least ideal (4).” The results of this question were summarized in the 2020 Community Input Report, indicating the locations with a low weighted average as the most ideal for future growth and development. The graph below illustrates these results:

This graph suggests that respondents preferred future growth and development in the underutilized or private parking areas first, at the north end of Chinook Pier second, the location of the former Power Plant third, and the location of the Chinook Pier Shops fourth. What was not realized at the time, however, was that the “weighted average” metric calculated by the survey instrument did not compute values using “1” for most ideal to “4” least ideal, but instead assigns a “4” to the top-ranked item (most ideal), a “3” to the second-ranked item, and so on. This “flips” the data so that the highest score (Avg 3.38) had the lowest rank number assigned to it (#1 or most ideal). What results, then, is a label that shows the mirror opposite of the actual results.

The graph below accurately reflects the weighted averages for the results of the public survey. The complete results of the survey (including this question) were provided in Appendix 2 of the Community Input Report.

The Community Survey Report has been revised as a result of this correction. The Beyond the Pier Plan and other supporting documentation that relies on this data will also be adjusted so accurate information is presented to the community.

The remaining results of the survey have been reviewed and are correct. In the interest of transparency, the complete survey results are available in Appendix 2 of the Community Input Report.

The Beyond the Pier project must be driven by data and facts. If the facts change, the Plan must also be reviewed to ensure that the recommendations of the Plan are supported by the data. In this case, the data indicates that there is not as much public support for encouraging growth and development on underutilized surface parking as was originally thought. This correction will result in a better plan that more closely reflects the desires of Grand Haven’s citizens.

This question is one of many survey questions asked, and the survey itself was one of many forms of digital and in-person engagement that was held in support of the Beyond the Pier project. Most of the designs, concepts, and recommendations of the Beyond the Pier Plan remain firmly rooted in public needs and desires.

What site is being considered for the Request for Qualifications?

Chinook Pier is being considered for the Request for Qualifications site. This may include the promotion of a public-private partnership to develop dining and shops on the north end of the pier and the multi-use market identified on the schematic plan.

The Request for Qualifications will not move forward until the Waterfront Master Plan has been completed and accepted by the City Council.

Is the City working with a developer?

No. The City is not working with a developer on the Request for Qualifications site. When the Request for Qualifications is publicly released, then conversations may begin with the development community.

The Waterfront Master Plan is conceptual in nature and was created based on a multitude of input from the community, the Grand Haven Waterfront Committee, and other local boards and commissions. The Request for Qualifications site has been selected based on this input and will be shared with the development community in an effort to kick-start the public-private partnership needed for the Chinook Pier improvements.