A decade-long plan to redevelop three forlorn city blocks in south Grand Rapids into affordable housing, retail and an urban grocery store is once again rolling forward with plans to break ground before June 1.
The first construction phase of the Wealthy-Jefferson Neighborhood Initiative will spur some $15 million in mixed-use development that will bring retail, 50 apartments and a small condo project to the city block bounded by Wealthy St. (north), LaGrave Avenue (east), Sheldon Avenue (west) and Logan St. (south).
Property owner, Inner City Christian Federation
(ICCF), a nonprofit affordable-housing developer, cleared the block and most of two adjoining blocks of decrepit buildings some years ago. The organization has committed to constructing two new buildings thus far, both of which will be built along Wealthy St. between Sheldon and LaGrave.
The initiative's later phases will add a 28,000-square-foot urban grocery store and more housing to the remaining properties, says Jonathan Bradford, ICCF CEO.
Negotiations with an unnamed local grocer are underway, says Bradford, adding that he's "confident that it will go through."
"About 1999, a then-city commissioner proposed the clear cutting of six whole blocks to convert them into an industrial zone," Bradford says. "Neighborhood associations, churches and ICCF fought that and stopped it. A committee studied how to recapture the diversity this neighborhood once had. In 1912, the area had 4,744 people and only about 900 people in 2000."
Bradford says a key motivator was the "resuscitation" of Wealthy St. between Division and Lafayette in 2008. That project, in essence, laid the groundwork for the rest of what is to come.
Bradford envisions an explosion of private retail investment around the Wealthy St. roundabouts.
The proposed Bus Rapid Transit system route passes the development along its north and south boundaries, providing riders with opportunities to stop off and pick up groceries or items from the retail shops, then board the next coach for home or work.
Bradford says Brownfield Authority Tax Credits
are under consideration. The project's funding comes, in part, from $5.2 million awarded through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2
, which will be taken off the table unless construction begins by June 1.
Site plan and design are by nationally renowned development designer Seth Harry
of Woodbine, MD. Integrated Architecture
is the architect of record for the first two buildings along Wealthy St. Progressive AE
is the civil engineer.
Source: Jonathan Bradford, CEO, Inner City Christian Federation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor