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The proposed location for Meijer Inc.'s West Side location, planned in partnership with Rockford Construction The proposed location for Meijer Inc.'s West Side location, planned in partnership with Rockford Construction MiBiz File Photo

Rockford Construction, ICCF announce plans for affordable housing in Grand Rapids’ West Side neighborhood

BY Tuesday, June 28, 2016 11:38am

GRAND RAPIDS — Rockford Construction Company Inc. today formally announced plans for a redevelopment project that aims to bring 70 units of affordable housing to the northwest area of Grand Rapids.

As MiBiz first reported in May, the company will partner with nonprofit housing developer Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) to develop the housing. This project could also bring ground floor retail to the site, planned for the area around a vacant three-way intersection at Bridge Street, Lexington Avenue and Stocking Avenue.

Rockford Construction executives did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment. However, sources with knowledge of the matter say that under the terms of a partnership, Rockford Construction would most likely own the land and lease out the ground floor retail while a nonprofit developer like ICCF would develop and own the housing.

Much of the deal hinges on ICCF obtaining Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The organization has not yet posted notice of a new funding round, but in past years, funding has always been offered in April and October of each year.

A timeline for the project was not immediately clear.

According to a statement released by Rockford Construction, ICCF will seek LIHTC funds available to people earning 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). In Kent County, that comes out to $32,100 for a two-person household, according to data found on the MSHDA website.

“The LIHTC process is very competitive,” ICCF President and CEO Ryan VerWys said in a statement. “But we are excited to work alongside Rockford and the neighborhood to increase the availability of affordable housing for neighbors on the West Side.”

Additionally, the partners will be working through a public process in the coming months, as well as seeking a zoning variance for the housing component related to the need for increased height and density.

Today’s formal announcement of what’s been called a “superblock” comes on the heels of the mid-June announcement that Rockford Construction plans to partner with Walker-based Meijer Inc. for a neighborhood grocery store. The new Meijer would be located about one block away at the corner of Bridge Street and Seward Avenue.

Rockford Construction has been quite vocal about plans to redevelop much of the West Side, particularly around Bridge Street where CEO Mike VanGessel grew up.

The company also moved its headquarters to the area two years ago.

Some have credited Rockford Construction’s involvement in projects like the under-construction New Holland Brewery project as breathing new life into the area. Others have expressed concern that the pace of change and the amount of market-rate residential units will price out longtime residents, as MiBiz has previously reported.

For its part, Rockford Construction said in a statement that during its history the company has delivered about 500 units of affordable housing.

“We know that for us as a neighborhood, more affordable and quality housing is a need and an important part of healthy growth,” VanGessel said in a statement. “For more than a year, our team has been participating in many conversations around how to best bring in partners who can deliver housing options that are beautiful and attainable for our neighbors.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated from a previous version.

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