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$13.6 million Campau Commons rises from rubble

The second phase of the Grand Rapids Housing Commission’s massive effort to develop new, affordable housing for low-income residents is well underway. Construction began in November on the $13.6 million Campau Commons after two months spent demolishing the original 112 housing units.

The Grand Rapids Housing Commission (GRHC), developers of the project, has been working on the plan to re-use the property at Franklin and South Division Streets for over five years. The original houses were extremely rundown and required replacement both because of their condition, and to provide housing options that fit the needs of residents.

Reducing the density of the housing down to 92 units is one of the changes being implemented.

“[Reducing the density] allows us to keep the front open so passersby on Division will be able to see the Campau Park pool,” said Carlos Sanchez, executive director of the GRHC. “This will open it up to the neighborhood. We’ll have about five to ten more acres of parkland along Division.”

The new units include 60 one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom townhouse-style apartments along Franklin Street, and 32 semi-detached duplexes along Antoine and Campau Streets.

“There are some units in the back the builders are starting to frame and rough in,” Sanchez added. “The furthest west property will be done in July; the front part (facing on S. Division) will be done in November.”

Each unit will have Energy Star-certified ranges, refrigerators, furnaces, and hot water heaters, and the GRHC is in the process of applying for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Each home will include a security system. A separate building will house the management offices, a community center, and a Head Start facility.

Rental costs are based on family size and income, and range from $250 to about $600.

Campau Commons residents were involved in the redevelopment process from the beginning. When the project received final approval, the GRHC along with several churches and community groups helped residents relocate to new homes. The GRHC has kept track of these residents and will offer them the first right of refusal on the new housing.

“We expect 25 to 50 percent to come back,” Sanchez said. “Some have moved to the neighborhood they wanted to move to, and they don’t want to come back.”

Construction services are provided by Pioneer Construction. Architectural design was provided by Hooker DeJong.

Source: Carlos Sanchez, Grand Rapids Housing Commission

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