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organsnyder

Southtown - South Division - Burton Heights projects

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Last year, Popeye's moved from the old building at Burton St & Division Ave SE into a newly constructed building immediately adjacent. The owner of both buildings is now considering what to do with the old building, and is seeking community input. GPNA is hosting a meeting next week Wednesday, January 29, for the owner to solicit input from the community. From GPNA President Michael Scholten:

 

 

 

TOWN HALL MEETING ABOUT PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF FORMER POPEYE'S RESTAURANT AT BURTON/DIVISION
January 29, 7 pm at the GPNA Lodge

Many of you have noticed, and eaten at, the new Popeye's restaurant on Division just North of Burton. If you're like me, you're probably wondering what is going to replace the old Popeye's building on the corner. Recently Mr. Jay Kim, the owner of the property, reached out to GPNA to get some input from the neighborhood. We offered to set up a forum to discuss what you want to see in your neighborhood, and so we've scheduled a meeting for next Wednesday (Jan 29) at 7 pm at the GPNA Lodge. 
It's great that Mr. Kim sought the input of the neighbors, and it's essential that we get a good turnout at the meeting. Mr. Kim is considering everything from a party store to a coffee shop, but he needs to know what the neighbors want, and more importantly, where they will spend their money. We can make a difference on what is developed, so let's make our voice heard.

 

 

From the input I've heard, there is near universal opposition to a party store, which appears to have been Mr. Kim's original plan. A party store would probably be the most profitable in the very-short-term, but it's not the right fit for the direction the neighborhood is headed. The most popular idea being floated around is a coffee shop. I love this idea - there are none in the immediate area, and it could do brisk business with commuters, as a downtown-headed Silver Line stop is immediately adjacent to its parking lot.

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Last year, Popeye's moved from the old building at Burton St & Division Ave SE into a newly constructed building immediately adjacent. The owner of both buildings is now considering what to do with the old building, and is seeking community input. GPNA is hosting a meeting next week Wednesday, January 29, for the owner to solicit input from the community. From GPNA President Michael Scholten:

 

 

 

From the input I've heard, there is near universal opposition to a party store, which appears to have been Mr. Kim's original plan. A party store would probably be the most profitable in the very-short-term, but it's not the right fit for the direction the neighborhood is headed. The most popular idea being floated around is a coffee shop. I love this idea - there are none in the immediate area, and it could do brisk business with commuters, as a downtown-headed Silver Line stop is immediately adjacent to its parking lot.

 

Coffee shop would be good, although it will probably seek a drive-through. Not necessarily a bad idea. The Biggby on Fuller has an unobtrusive drive-through. So does Bagel Beanery.

 

Burton Heights is the next big commercial district to get rejuvenated (after the West Side receives some more love).

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A drive-through is probably inevitable, especially since the building is already equipped (and, therefore, zoned, I would think) for it. The new Popeye's next door has a drive-through, and it's not too bad.

 

I think that Burton Heights just needs one or two developments to spark a lot of energy - we just need some pioneers taking the first steps.

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Honestly a liquor store would make a lot of cents there......what about a 7/11, I've noticed in other parts of the country 7/11 is expanding rapidly in urban areas and even have some nice urban buildings. A coffee shop is not a bad idea but may even be too small for that location. By the looks of the satellite image, it appears the drive through was removed to build parking for the new location. Another odd thing is why is there only one popeyes in Grand Rapids if its been there for so long and in the same location? its a large national chain in an area that could support several. 

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Honestly a liquor store would make a lot of cents there......what about a 7/11, I've noticed in other parts of the country 7/11 is expanding rapidly in urban areas and even have some nice urban buildings. A coffee shop is not a bad idea but may even be too small for that location. By the looks of the satellite image, it appears the drive through was removed to build parking for the new location. Another odd thing is why is there only one popeyes in Grand Rapids if its been there for so long and in the same location? its a large national chain in an area that could support several. 

 

I've been trying to figure out this myself! it's been there since the early 80s at least.

 

Whatever goes there, I hope they at least try to push it close to the street to match-up with the new Popeye's. It will give Burton Heights a small corner that looks presentable. Or to at least provide a counterbalance to the XXX theater and tacky looking places down the street.

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Honestly a liquor store would make a lot of [sense] there......  

Here's a link containing the BZA minutes from 3/21/13. Fully half of the content details the application for the Wealthy Street Bakery's new location on Franklin, and the applicant's request for a SDM (packaged liquor) license.

 

The neighborhood turned out in droves to offer comment. We've got highlights:

 

...co-chair for the Kent County Prevention Coalition. ...promoting healthier communities by preventing harmful substance use.... saturation and density of alcohol retailers, specifically in the urban communities. Within a one mile radius of the site in question there are already plenty of retailers. ...They recently did a piece with students where students in this community that walk to school were given cameras.... asked to take photos of all of the alcohol, tobacco, and other drug messages they see on their way to school. In doing that one thing that came out is that students that live in the area are very concerned about the saturation of alcohol retailers and they often ask why that isn’t the case in East Grand Rapids and other suburban communities.

 

...there is already a saturation of alcohol outlets in the area. This is a main thoroughfare for kids walking to school and the last thing they need to see is another alcohol outlet ...

 

...has sat at tables with doctors, lawyers and educators and once they have one or two drinks their whole behavior changes. It isn’t necessarily about the man who lights up the blunt coming out of a liquor store; it is about behavior changing once you decide to drink. ...

 

...stated that the site is approximately a ½ block away from their home. There are at least three alcohol retailers within 3-5 blocks of this location. He asked if those that are proposing the sale of alcohol live in the area. It is getting to be that the alcohol is brought in by those that don’t live in the neighborhood. ...

 

...concerned about the beer and wine sales. She asked that the Board deny that portion of the request; it isn’t needed in the neighborhood. ...

 

...He drives by a dozen party stores on his way home and to and from work daily and he understands what his neighbors are complaining about with respect to pushing alcohol in the neighborhood. ...

 

...With respect to the beer and wine sales, she doesn’t feel that is necessary. The site is less than 500 ft. from the church and she is concerned that it would set precedent to allow that that close to a church. ....

 

...[one of the applicants] stated that he has no interest in owning a party store or that dynamic. He has no interest in having anything like that in any neighborhood that he is associated with. ...

 

[board chair] noted receipt of 51 letters of support in varying degrees and 10 letters expressing concern.

[board member] related that 9 letters in opposition were submitted since the meeting started; all of them only addressing the alcohol sales.

[applicant] indicated that he has approximately 70 letters of support in his possession, 1 opposed and 1 partially in favor.

 

A change in use, from a restaurant with pick up window to a SDM party store, would require city approval, likely to be a similar process to the above.

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The planning commission rejected the request for alcohol sales:

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/03/convenience_store_rejected_ove.html

 

The neighborhood opposition to the convenience store was virtually unanimous. On the one hand, I'm glad that this isn't going through - this corner is going to see a lot of redevelopment, and this would have hindered that - but I understand that the building owner is simply looking to turn a profit. I'm hopeful that GPNA will be able to work with the owner to identify other profitable uses for the property that would also be more beneficial to the neighborhood and business district.

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If anyone intends to develop a property on Division and their lot is anywhere near a BRT stop they better have a pretty darn good community friendly, well designed, thoughtful development in mind or it is going to get shot down.  The BRT is a huge investment and there are several studies that were cited showing how a BRT positively affects the property values in the surrounding blocks.  I do not mind the Planning Commission being very careful on these decisions.  

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Great to see attention being paid to this long-ignored area. Not a fan, of the design, though—am I really interpreting it right that there are no doors facing either street!?!

Edit: I could be wrong, though. Tough to tell if some of those bigger glass areas include doors, or whether they're just windows.

Edited by organsnyder

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That glass on the corner seriously looks like a Walgreens entrance.

b260f16c6a8e491c806debf6b03b488d.jpg

But I'm guessing this won't be a pharmacy, considering there's no drive-thru planned.

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4 hours ago, organsnyder said:

Great to see attention being paid to this long-ignored area. Not a fan, of the design, though—am I really interpreting it right that there are no doors facing either street!?!

Edit: I could be wrong, though. Tough to tell if some of those bigger glass areas include doors, or whether they're just windows.

I think you're right. Even on the site plan it only shows "bldg entrance" on the back parking lot side. 

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This is a build "by right" project, meaning the proposed structure and use fits within the current planning and zoning requirements for this site. Consequently the developer is not required to hold public meetings to get a permit to build.  Here is what we know: there is no liquor sales or use license being pulled for this site so it is not a liquor store or restaurant/bar.  the developer has said it is a national chain.  They also said it is one main tenant with a few smaller commercial bays as well.  That is all we know.  Along with Organsnyder I am super excited to see this site get redeveloped.  I have lived near this intersection for 20 years and have been driving past that old building.  That being said, it kind of looks like a Goodwill, like the one on Michigan that went into the old Walgreens.  Time will tell.  

On a side note, I have been saying for 5 years that the near SE side is the last place in the City with large tracts of land or large buildings left to be developed.  Watch out everyone because I believe this time is now.  Drive down Division between Burton and Franklin and look at the huge tracks of land and large buildings just waiting to be redeveloped.  We are working on the South Division area to develop an ASP in order to ensure that what goes into these sites has some level of cohesion and appropriateness for the commercial strip it can and will be.

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2 hours ago, lighthousedave said:

This is a build "by right" project, meaning the proposed structure and use fits within the current planning and zoning requirements for this site. Consequently the developer is not required to hold public meetings to get a permit to build.  Here is what we know: there is no liquor sales or use license being pulled for this site so it is not a liquor store or restaurant/bar.  the developer has said it is a national chain.  They also said it is one main tenant with a few smaller commercial bays as well.  That is all we know.  Along with Organsnyder I am super excited to see this site get redeveloped.  I have lived near this intersection for 20 years and have been driving past that old building.  That being said, it kind of looks like a Goodwill, like the one on Michigan that went into the old Walgreens.  Time will tell.  

On a side note, I have been saying for 5 years that the near SE side is the last place in the City with large tracts of land or large buildings left to be developed.  Watch out everyone because I believe this time is now.  Drive down Division between Burton and Franklin and look at the huge tracks of land and large buildings just waiting to be redeveloped.  We are working on the South Division area to develop an ASP in order to ensure that what goes into these sites has some level of cohesion and appropriateness for the commercial strip it can and will be.

This building at 2017 S Division appears to have been fixed up:

12379952_DSC01406.JPG

 

 

 

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I assume the building on the corner will be taken down for the new one?  Does not seem like the current footprint would allow any of it to be reused...??

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Overall it's ok. Not terribly thrilled with the one-story height and entrance facing a back parking lot. This is a building designed for the car and those seem to be the people that they are expecting to use whatever will be located here. At least the lot is well-screened from the intersection.

I do like that it widens the sidewalk and extends the building. Not happy that the "windows" facing the street look like that are mostly useless and just to pass minimum city codes. Along Hall, it is obviously just a blank wall with a slot window near the top. Will not be shocked if they are like the "windows" on the CVS store in Eastown. The building materials will likely just be cheap blocks.

It's a major step up from what is there, so that's good.

 

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23 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

This building at 2017 S Division appears to have been fixed up:

That looks really nice. I'd love to see some of the other buildings in that block fixed up; they all appear to be in decent shape, but could use some cosmetic attention. Unfortunately, the only visible "upgrades" for the most prominent building (the one on the corner) have been the addition of those highly annoying and tacky flashing LED borders...

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On 3/25/2016 at 8:26 AM, organsnyder said:

That looks really nice. I'd love to see some of the other buildings in that block fixed up; they all appear to be in decent shape, but could use some cosmetic attention. Unfortunately, the only visible "upgrades" for the most prominent building (the one on the corner) have been the addition of those highly annoying and tacky flashing LED borders...

Seems like I saw another one in that vicinity on the city's permit list, but can't find it now. Renovating some apartments upstairs and redoing the main floor? 

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Quote

Plan to benefit area’s low- and middle-income residents with concept of ‘development without displacement.’"

These guys are so deluded you almost feel sorry for them.

The whole article is full of the same cliches, absolute pointless suggestions, and hopeless naivete that you can redevelop an area into some super low-income version of "Uptown", and the laws of economics will just avoid that part of town. I dont understand why people in positions of power in Grand Rapids are humoring this notion because it will not work.

Nice buildings require money. People are not going to sink that into an area (shy of millions in tax credits and subsidies) where the income demographic wont lead to a return because they cant attract higher-tier businesses. Businesses outside of the usual cell phone shops, liquor stores, payday loan facilities, and greasy food chains, are not going to locate there. The places I mentioned may pick up and leave because new/renovated buildings = higher rents.

Mixed income will work better towards attracting more useful mainstream businesses, but the key there is the mixed. That means lots of folks will have to move so that people with higher incomes can move in to get that mix. Any renters left will see those rates skyrocket. Those people leave, and more higher-earners come in. The area becomes better like in the illustration below, but you "displaced" the people you were looking to keep there!

 

SouthDivision_CampauPark2_CourtesyCityof

This simply is a feel-good fantasy, especially with the income demo you have living around Burton and S. Division. You will either have cheap, gaudy, and hideous buildings that house the same old, and is the equivalent of a cheap coat of paint on a liquor store, or you get gentrification. It doesnt matter if it's Eastown, East Hills, Belknap Hill, Bridge St., East or West Fulton, Wealthy Street, Creston Heights, or Michigan St. The formula isnt alterable no matter the good intentions.

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If Division isn't even desirable for businesses and residents DOWNTOWN, what makes people think it will become desirable south of Wealthy?  Wasn't the Silver Line supposed to bring in a bunch of new investment?  The Silver Line shelters are used more for a place to drink and sleep than anything else.

Burton Heights east of Division seems to slowly be improving in the neighborhoods, but it will take a lot more investment in the neighborhoods to support businesses on the corridors

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First of all, Division downtown is a very different beast: the large number of people loitering around the homeless shelters does, in my experience, make many people uncomfortable. Burton Heights doesn't have this problem—I've observed a few people loitering occasionally, but the vast majority of people are on their way to work or school.

Residential gentrification is indeed a tough nut to crack, especially for renters: as values and rents go up, they will simply be forced out. Homeowners should at least in theory benefit from increasing property values, so I'd argue that increasing homeownership (yes, I know that's not trendy in some circles right now) could be a huge boon.

Business gentrification is completely different: if business owners are able to adapt to a changing environment, they could benefit immensely—or at least avoid being supplanted. There are many businesses in Burton Heights that are minority-owned, and some of them have been there for decades. A $10k loan can be all the difference for a business that is in desperate need of updated signage, lighting, etc.

Also, the surrounding neighborhoods are already mixed—at least at a macro level. The blocks by Garfield Park (especially south and east) have been [upper-]middle-class since the houses were built. Other lower-income blocks are also showing signs of change; from what I've observed, gentrification is well underway.

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^^^Agree with @organsnyder and I don't really understand the negativity on this thread.  All this story is really saying is that a corridor that stretches over multiple business and neighborhood associations is going to come under a single plan, which kind of sounded to me like an ASP process (wonder if they're going to create one?).  And I actually found the plan (or at least what they've described so far) to be quite a bit measured and limited - really they're just focusing on some empty lots overlooking several heavily-trafficked intersections and they freely express that it'll be a long effort.  Yes there's some pie-in-the-sky language that glosses over obvious obstacles but what do you expect them to say.  It's not like they're trying to build SoDoSoPa on Division (or maybe I should say SoDoGeeRap).

It's pretty amazing that someone's pouring in so much money into saving the 4-Star - I have a soft spot for all the old theaters and hope one day they all get rescued.  IIRC that building was ID'd for demo before he stepped in.

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