Introduction

Historically, development in the area of 28th Street and the Cascade Road intersection has been considered to be the heart or “downtown” of the Township and is commonly referred to as “Cascade Village”. In contrast to the other commercial districts, development in this area is generally of smaller scale and contains fewer national franchises. Over the years, as the Township’s population grew, and traffic volumes along 28th Street and Cascade Road increased, the roads were consequently widened to accommodate increased traffic congestion. Development built in the 1980’s through the2000’s resulted in more suburban style qualities compared to the more mature existing development of the Township.

Prepared Plans & Policies

Over the years, the Township has prepared several plans and policies for this area to reinforce its authenticity as a village, such as:
  • Reroute 28th Street so that Old 28th Street would have lower traffic volumes and could be more usable for all types of travelers.
  • An option of a Village Master Plan.
  • An option of a Complete Streets Plan.
  • Collaboration with the Kent County Road Commission to implement pedestrian crossings along Cascade Road.
  • Changing regulations to permit multiple-family residential.
  • Restoration of the historic building and plaza at the Cascade and Thornapple River Drive intersection.
  • Improvements to the Tassel Park.

This Plan envisions a series of recommendations to install a more village-like environment. As illustrated on the Village Plan, some changes are intended to implement slower traffic speeds and ensure the area is safer and more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists. Other recommendations include concepts for new, mixed-use, compact development with internal streets and well-designed parking.

Below are proposed recommendations for the following:

Cascade Village

  • Encourage compact, mixed-use development including attached residential.
  • Develop “blocks” with new private roads or alleyways.
  • Focus on 3 walkable nodes.
  • Take advantage of Tassel Park and views, as well as strategic acquisition of riverfront lands for redevelopment.
  • Enable non-motorized travel over the bridge through the reconfiguration of lanes to widen the sidewalk space.
  • Improve comfort and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists to increase non-motorized travel.
  • Instill a “park once” and walk atmosphere though shared parking arrangements, new wayfinding signage, and enhanced sidewalk connections at Thornapple River Drive, the Bridge, and Thorncrest.
  • Calm traffic speeds through the core but retain smooth traffic flow.

Roundabout at 28th Street & Cascade Road / Pedestrian Crossing at New Connection.

Roundabout Option at Old 28th Street & Cascade Road.

New Connection and Traffic Calming Circle at Old 28th Street.

Cascade Road & Thornapple Drive Intersection and Redevelopment.

Cascade Road

Objective: Improve walkability along and across the roadway.

  • Traffic volumes south of 28th St to Old 28th; 18,500 north of Thornapple River Dr.
  • Create gateway features at the north and south entrances to the “Village”.
  • Shorten length of northbound right-turn lane.
  • Overtime consolidate driveways, install medians where left turns no longer required.
  • Provide shared pathway along both sides of Cascade Rd.
  • Add streetscape elements including street lights and street trees.
  • Explore option of roundabouts at 28th/Cascade and Old 28th/Cascade which could allow a reduction to three lanes.

Old 28th Street

Objective: Make a slower speed, more walkable street.

  • Daily traffic volumes 4600 vehicles (80% eastbound), fairly high speed.
  • Gradually locate new buildings closer to the road.
  • Add on-street parking and other “traffic calming” elements to slow traffic and encourage through traffic to use 28th Street.
  • Add a traffic calming feature at the intersection of the new connection.
  • Add sidewalks along both sides.
  • Add streetscape with pedestrian oriented lighting and street trees.

Thornapple River Drive - West of Cascade Road

Objective: Improve aesthetics, increase awareness and access to the park, take advantage of views to the river and dam.

  • Relocate the auto body shop (see Villages).
  • Support new more “village-like” development (see Villages).
  • Arrange new development to take advantage of vistas (such as outdoor seating).
  • Provide views into the park.
  • Extend the streetscape eastward along Thornapple River Drive.

Thornapple River Bridge

Objective: Ease pedestrian and bicycle crossings while retaining acceptable traffic operations.

  • Re-stripe the lane widths to provide a buffer zone between traffic lanes and the pedestrian/bikeway along the edge.
  • Add a cantilevered pedestrian/bike bridge along the edges (see photo example).
  • Add a new pedestrian bridge along the east side (to connect with existing non-motorized pathways) or west side (if park is expanded).

Upper & Lower Village

Upper Village

Objective: Enhance connectivity, and create more walkability with a new interior street/alley.

  • Re-stripe the lane widths to provide a buffer zone between traffic lanes and the pedestrian/bikeway along the edge.
  • Add a cantilevered pedestrian/bike bridge along the edges (see photo example).
  • Add a new pedestrian bridge along the east side (to connect with existing non-motorized pathways) or west side (if park is expanded).

Lower Village

Objective: Support a more compact, walkable district.

  • New Village Green to create focal point, gathering spot for events.
  • Infill with mixed use development including more attached residential.
  • New internal system of private drives to create “blocks”.
  • New streets to be focused on pedestrian elements with on-street parking.
  • Additional shared parking lots.

Gateway Properties

Objective: Support a more compact, walkable district.

  • Infill holds the corner at the intersections of Cascade Road and Thornapple River Drive.
  • Parking is internal to the site, blocked from view by buildings.
  • Views and outdoor seating along the Thornapple River.
  • Building entries at Cascade Road and Thornapple River Drive, buildings orient to the street with storefronts.
  • Widened sidewalks along Cascade Road and Thornapple River Drive.
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