Grand Rapids' $45M Wealthy-Jefferson project gets new name, launches phase 2

The seemingly impossible vision of creating a community filled with housing options, retail shops and an urban grocery store where there were once dilapidated buildings and vacant land is close to becoming reality.

As construction continues on 32 apartments in two new buildings along Wealthy St. SW between Sheldon and LaGrave avenues, the developers of the project, the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), announced today a new name for what was known as the Wealthy-Jefferson Project: Tapestry Square.

"We hope that there are several messages contained therein," says ICCF CEO Jonathan Bradford. "A fabric is made strong by the weaving of the cords vertically and horizontally; so, too, is a community strong by the weaving together of a variety of uses and a diversity of people. We're sending a message of stability, safety and opportunity with the name Tapestry Square."

Tapestry Square encompasses four blocks bounded by Wealthy St. on the north, Division Avenue on the west, Buckley St. on the south and LaGrave Avenue on the east.

Construction on the first two buildings, which will offer 32 affordable rate apartments, is well underway. Construction of the adjacent Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy along S. Division has begun (not funded by ICCF, but through a public-private partnership between the Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Grand Rapids University Preparatory Association). A grocery store with residential space above it is in the financial planning stage, says Bradford.

"This fall, we will start construction of 16 ownership townhouses at [the] south end of same block as the apartment buildings," says Bradford. "Next Monday, we're starting reconstruction of a four-unit building at 528 Sheldon Avenue."

Tapestry Square also includes several new retail spaces and a Bus Rapid Transit station.

Bradford says a study of 35 city blocks in the area showed that residential occupancy declined some 80 percent from 4,744 people in 1912 to 946 in 2000. The number of retail businesses dropped from 43 in 1950 to just two in 2002. He adds that the development of the Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center in the nearby Vandenberg Elementary School building and the future UPrep Academy will help to attract new families and many more businesses to a once-thriving neighborhood.

"Tapestry Square seeks to transform this neighborhood into a tightly woven, functional urban fabric again," Bradford says.

Source: Jonathan Bradford, Inner City Christian Federation and Tapestry Square
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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