Over the years the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) Viewing Park — at 4820 Kraft Avenue SE, just north of 52nd — 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. The park is like catnip to aviation enthusiasts and photographers. And in July 2015, Grand Rapids Kids Magazine voted the park the “Best Kept Secret in Grand Rapids”.
As its popularity has grown, so has the need for an updated facility. Now the Airport Viewing Park is getting a makeover.
GFIA, in partnership with the Cascade Community Foundation (CCF), broke ground Oct. 24 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.
“We have heard over the years how enjoyable this viewing park is to our community, and we are happy to invest in our Airport Viewing Park to make it even better for future generations,” said GFIA Acting President & CEO Phil Johnson.
The Airport contributed $675,000 to the project, with the balance funded through CCF’s “Community is Our Middle Name” Capital Campaign.
“We are grateful for the community support that was essential to the success of the Cascade Community Foundations ‘Community is our Middle Name’ campaign,” said campaign co-chair Sheila VanZile. “The project couldn’t have happened without the significant support of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and their amazing team.”
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.
Mathison & Mathison Architects designed the new Viewing Park, and contractor Owen Ames Kimball is the construction team.
The Airport Viewing Park should remain open during construction, but parking will be limited and – should closings occur – they will be posted via the Airport’s social media accounts. More photos and information on the project can be found here.