GRAND RAPIDS — City officials have approved United Methodist Community House’s plan to expand its services and construct a new four-story, 93-unit affordable senior apartment facility.
The mixed-use project is planned on a 3.27-acre property at 900 S. Division Ave. that includes multiple contiguous parcels of land but will operate as a single development. The apartment building will have an attached three-story, 75,000-square-foot community center, and parking lots fronting Sheldon Avenue are planned to be expanded to accommodate the development.
The city Planning Commission unanimously approved the conceptual site plan for final review at its Thursday meeting. The plan needed special land use approvals for community center uses, parking and ground floor residential use.
The community center portion will include a child care center, older adult activity space, research center and fresh food market. UMCH is looking at incorporating an intergenerational institute in the space with its programming, Chief of Operations Carla Moore said during the Planning Commission meeting.
“We have been engaging with communities about this project starting back in 2018,” Moore said. “All the plans we had for expansion are all data driven, and come from documented data and reports that talk about the immediate community needs.”
Commissioners were all favorable of the plans, particularly the convenient mix of uses and how they will serve the community.
“This is a great thing for this portion of South Division — it’s always been kind of a desolate and neglected-looking area,” Planning Commissioner Paul Greenwald said. “This project will bring a lot of light to this section of Division.”
UMHC secured $1 million in state funding for the project in a bipartisan effort led by state Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, with funds that were allocated in the 2021 state budget. The fund allocation was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sept. 30.
“The United Methodist Community House is a staple of our community that brings together generations of Grand Rapidians and helps foster respect, understanding and cultural awareness,” Brinks said in a statement. “I am proud to have fought for, and won, the inclusion of funding for them in the state’s budget so they can continue that mission, and I am eager to see the wonderful initiatives that will grow from it.”
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