GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Planning Commission today approved a conceptual plan for a large-scale mixed-use district in the city’s Boston Square neighborhood.
The proposed plan by Grand Rapids-based nonprofit Amplify GR now will go to the City Commission for final approval.
The approval is only for the concept of the project. The Planning Commission mandated Amplify GR needs to return to the Planning Commission for final site plan approval for each of the project’s phases.
Amplify GR’s site plan includes 18 townhomes within three buildings along Adams Street; 168 apartments within four buildings along Kalamazoo Avenue and Evergreen Street; 59 senior apartments in buildings off of Fuller Avenue, and 24,493 square feet of retail and commercial space on the ground floor of the three apartment buildings on Kalamazoo.
The approval, which rezones 12 parcels into a planned redevelopment district, came after a lengthy public hearing in which residents of the Boston Square neighborhood spoke about their fears of gentrification, and asked that the Planning Commission postpone approval, especially because the body cannot mandate the developer to construct affordable housing.
“The way it’s being presented is troubling to me,” said J.D. Chapman Jr., a resident of the neighborhood. “With the history of Grand Rapids and the lack of investment, equity and ownership for minority groups in the city, it feels like this project kind of promotes that.”
Leadership from Amplify GR emphasized their outreach to the community via multiple public meetings. Latesha Lipscomb, manager of engagement and relationships at Amplify GR, said the plan is a “direct reflection” of what neighbors have said they wanted, because it includes educational opportunities, affordable housing and potentially a grocery store and park.
“This is a plan that is for neighbors, by neighbors,” she said.
Residents have questioned Amplify GR’s motives in the southeast side of Grand Rapids ever since Amplify and its affiliates bought 32 parcels there three years ago.
According to documents Amplify GR submitted to the city, project partners include Northbrook, Ill.-based Brinshore Development LLC, Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction Co. Inc., Chicago-based architecture firm UrbanWorks Ltd., Grand Rapids-based Isaac V. Norris & Associates P.C., Kalamazoo- and Grand Rapids-based landscape architecture firm Viridis Design Group, Grand Rapids-based Integrated Architecture Inc. and Grand Rapids-based engineering firm Nederveld Inc.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct a typo in Latesha Lipscomb’s name.
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