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Developer scales back plans for GR affordable senior housing project COURTESY PHOTO

Developer scales back plans for GR affordable senior housing project

BY Tuesday, June 09, 2020 03:38pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A developer is scaling back plans for a mixed-use affordable senior housing project near downtown and is no longer seeking a commercial tenant at the space.

The Tapestry Square project at the southeast corner of Division Avenue and Wealthy Street previously called for 84 apartments and seven floors, including a grocery store at ground level. The $12.4 million budget now calls for 56 residential units across all four floors.

“The reduction in the number of units was primarily tied to our need to scale back the budget of the entire project and the parking limitations that resulted from the elimination of the previously proposed parking structure,” said Ryan VerWys, CEO of the Inner City Christian Federation, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit housing developer.

“After pursuing multiple commercial tenants for the first floor of the building, we were unable to land something that would make that commercial space work,” he added.

The Grand Rapids Food Co-op initially hoped to secure the space. A co-op official could not be reached for comment, but the co-op’s June 9 newsletter said it hopes to grow to about 1,000 owners in order to build a 10,000 square foot “full-service grocery store and community gathering place in central Grand Rapids.” The co-op currently has 283 owners.

VerWys said part of the difficulty was finding a business that could work within the time constraints that come with using Low Income Housing Tax Credits. However, space remains available on the north end of the block to potentially suit a commercial tenant in the future, he said.

With the latest Tapestry Square project at 424 S. Division Ave., ICCF is proposing 50 units of affordable units and six market rate apartments with surface parking on the site. 

The development would be in the Traditional-Transit Oriented Development zone district, which permits ground-floor residential dwelling for affordable housing projects, subject to special land use approval. The Grand Rapids City Planning Commission will consider the special land use request at its June 11 meeting.

The Tapestry Square project will serve adults 65 and older. VerWys anticipates a growing need for housing in the older adult population.

The proposed development at Tapestry Square — which is bordered by Wealthy, Division, Buckley Street and LaGrave Avenue — is meant to serve mixed-income households. Affordable one-bedroom apartments in the project will have an estimated rent starting at $352 per month, and affordable two-bedroom units will start at $422. Market-rate one-bedroom units will be $1,400 a month, and two-bedrooms will be $1,650.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not factor into the decision to downsize the number of units, VerWys said. Construction is planned to start early in 2021 or sooner.

“It’s good for the neighborhood,” VerWys said of the Tapestry Square project. “This will serve the community with amenities that are there already and will bring some households downtown.”

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