GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Valley State University's Board of Trustees today approved two memos of understanding (MOUs) to move forward with its proposed campus in the Belknap neighborhood just north of downtown Grand Rapids.
The university’s board approving the MOUs comes on the heels of Grand Rapids City Commission approval earlier this week.
The university said in a statement that one agreement pertains to vacating an alleyway on one of the property parcels while the other is in regards to the hiring of Detroit-based urban consulting firm SmithgroupJJR Inc.
The firm will work with the neighborhood and the university “to ensure that any future building on university property fits in with the character and integrity of the neighborhood,” according to the statement.
As MiBiz has previously reported, Belknap residents have expressed concerns in the past over the university’s transparency about its plan for the campus. Much of the concern stemmed from GVSU’s status as a state university making it exempt from local zoning ordinances and the neighborhood’s Master Plan.
While GVSU said in its statement released today that it has no timetable for construction, multiple sources have told MiBiz that the university hopes to have a building at the corner of Lafayette Ave. and Hastings Street open for students by the 2018 school year.
The university said that, with the necessary approvals, it will now move into a planning process for the proposed campus.
"Grand Valley is committed to working with the neighborhood so that future development enhances the area," Thomas J. Haas, president of Grand Valley State University, said in a statement. "These memos of understanding illustrate our desire to help the city with affordable housing and the area residents with employment opportunities. The city and the neighborhood representatives are working with us and that will lead to the right outcome for all involved."