Grand Rapids, Mich. – It’s a favorite spot for aviation enthusiasts, families, and photographers, and now the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) Viewing Park is getting a makeover. GFIA, in partnership with the Cascade Community Foundation (CCF), broke ground today on the Airport Viewing Park Project, a $1.12 million renovation that will add a pavilion, permanent restrooms, new seating areas, expanded parking spaces, and more.
Mathison | Mathison Architects created the design of the new pavilion and park. They're working with Studio Wise on the furniture, Owen Ames Kimball as the general contractor and Comprehensive Engineering on the structure. At the event Evan Mathison shared, "From the moment we stepped on site we knew this was going to be an inspiring project; an opportunity for learning and growth and of course the wonder of flight."
The Airport Viewing Park opened at its current location at 4820 Kraft Avenue SE, just north of 52 nd Street, in 1995. Over the years it has become a popular spot for area workers to take a lunch break, or for families to pack a picnic and enjoy a free afternoon spotting planes. Grand Rapids Kids Magazine voted the park the “Best Kept Secret in Grand Rapids” (July 2015). As its popularity has grown, so has the need for an updated facility.
After construction is completed, parking spaces will nearly double from 57 current spaces to 102 in the renovated lot. Additionally, there will be four bus parking spaces to accommodate school and tour groups. Guests will have more than double the seating of the old park with new picnic tables and benches, and a permanent restroom, new signage, and more trash receptacles are being added. The CCF wanted to demonstrate that our reach and contributions go beyond the Cascade Township boundaries, and this project does that in a significant way," said CCF Board Chair Laura McDowell.