GRAND RAPIDS — City planning officials will soon consider a substantial component of Amplify GR’s expansive Boston Square Together project.
The development’s “community hub” at 1534 Kalamazoo Ave. SE would include an early learning center, health clinic, after-school programming, workforce development space, co-working space, a cafe and a multipurpose room that could be used for a banquet event or show.
Amplify GR’s special land use request also includes the sale or consumption of alcohol that “may occasionally occur on site,” according to the application that will be considered by the Grand Rapids Planning Commission on June 9.
The nonprofit hopes to start construction this fall and conclude by the end of 2023, said Amplify GR Executive Director Jon Ippel.
The first phase of the community hub includes renovating the existing eastern two-thirds of the building into a main lobby, early learning center and other community spaces. The second phase includes a health clinic on the first floor and a second-floor wellness space with offices.
Approximately 50 full-time jobs would be created to run the community hub once completed, according to a memo filed with city planning officials.
Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative would occupy 11,000 square feet to provide childhood education services.
“An early learning center has been something that residents have been asking for for nearly 20 years,” Ippel said. “As we look at ways of supporting children to successfully become kindergarten-ready, that’s important to their development as well as supporting parents that need child care and making sure there are affordable places for their children to go during the day.”
The community hub is the “front porch” of the entire Boston Square Together mixed-use plan that includes 12 properties spanning roughly 10 acres in the Boston Square neighborhood on the city’s southeast side, Ippel said. The plan also calls for up to 270 residential housing units of varying types and affordability.
The first part of the Boston Square Together project, Kzoo Station: A Community Kitchen + Eatery, is set to open this year at 1445 Kalamazoo St. SE, in coordination with SpringGR. The community kitchen will allow local residents to test out restaurant concepts in an incubation space.
The community hub project design team includes Chicago-based Urban Works, Grand Rapids-based Comprehensive Engineering, and Grand Rapids-based Nederveld.
Amplify GR was founded with financial backing from the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, the CDV5 Foundation and Rockford Construction Co. Amplify GR has collaborated with the city of Grand Rapids, the Boston Square Neighborhood Association and Oakdale Neighbors for the past year to build feedback on the plan.
Victor Williams, who leads the Boston Square Neighborhood Association, previously told MiBiz that he is working with other community leaders to advocate for local ownership of the new businesses and institutions that Amplify GR is including in its new development.
“That’s what we want to do: Make sure we’re thinking this thing all the way through, particularly for the Black community, because that’s the biggest community in Boston Square right now and historically,” Williams told MiBiz in April. “We have walked hand-in-hand with (Amplify GR), but we can’t just say, ‘Go ahead, we trust you.’ It’s a process.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been clarified to say that the CDV5 Foundation contributed financial backing to the founding of Amplify GR, and that the contractors listed in this story are specific to the community hub portion of the Boston Square Together project.