Diamond Place pledges affordable housing and food security on Michigan Street Corridor

Completed in December 2018, the $42 million Diamond Place project, situated on 2.8-acres at 1003 Michigan Street N.E., includes 165 one-and two-bedroom apartments. Of those, 107 income-restricted apartments will rent for $393 to $1,260 per month, based on occupants’ income. The 58 market-rate apartments will rent from $899 to $1,600 per month.

On the ground floor, a Gordon Food Service Store grocery store is one tenant occupying the 30,000-total square-feet of retail space. Other retail tenants include The Ginza Sushi & Ramen Bar, which opened in December, and a Tropical Smoothie Café franchise, set to open soon. A remaining 850 square-foot retail suite remains unoccupied. However, it was the combination of income-restricted housing and a grocery store within the development that piqued the Michigan Good Food Fund’s interest in funding the project.

“Having low-income residents right on site gave us confidence that this Grand Rapids site was going to be serving Michiganders with its ground floor grocery in an underserved area,” says Ian Weisner, business development manager for Capital Impact Partners. “Plus, the fact that it is creating housing made it a really appealing project.”

While the Diamond Place Gordon Food Service Store accepts Bridge EBT cards, it does not participate in the Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) or Double Up Food Bucks programs. While Gordon Food Service marketing manager, Mark Dempsey, says that they hope to incorporate these programs, the current, closest retailers accepting WIC include Family Dollar, Grand Butcher, Walgreens, and Speedway and Shell gas stations.

What is the Michigan Good Food Fund?

A public-private partnership loan fund providing financing to enterprises that increase access to healthy foods in Michigan’s underserved communities, the Michigan Good Food Fund was created in partnership with the Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Through its efforts, Capital Impact Partners provides direct financing to food enterprises that grow, process, distribute, and sell healthy food that reaches low-income populations throughout Michigan.

Michigan Good Food Fund looks for projects that meet five criteria: increase access to healthy, affordable food; create good quality jobs; promote racial and social equity in the food system; have an environmental stewardship program in place; and source their products locally.

“When any business comes to us, we look at those five criteria. If it fits, we can provide technical assistance if they need it, pass them on to lending partners, or fund it ourselves,” says Mary Donnell, Michigan Good Food Fund project manager. “Our part in this bigger, high impact project was very compelling. Our focus was on the grocery store. We would love them to continue to provide healthy, affordable food and potentially partner in the Double Up Food Bucks program, which helps people leverage their food assistance dollars.”

More development partners

Third Coast Development and PK Development Group oversaw the Diamond Place development. Progressive AE served as architects and Pioneer Construction as general contractors. Other development partners include JPMorgan Chase Bank, Cinnaire, Mercantile Bank, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Opportunity Resource Fund, and the City of Grand Rapids.

“I’ve advocated for affordable housing along this corridor for some time, so I am thrilled to see Third Coast and PK Development provide sustainable living options for people of all income levels,” says Ruth Kelly, 2nd Ward Commissioner, City of Grand Rapids. “I hope that Diamond Place will become an example for other development in the area.”

“Diamond Place is a wonderful example of the City’s ‘Great Housing Strategies’ plan in action,” adds City of Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “We applaud Third Coast Development and PK Development Group for adding rent-restricted living options along the Michigan Street corridor.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor

Photos courtesy Third Coast Development and Gordon Food Service

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