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Boston Square development

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What do you think of this project?

 

Rockford Construction is proposing a Family Dollar for 1501-1505 Kalamazoo SE. The requested zoning change (to "Traditional Business Area") passed the Zoning Commission two weeks ago and goes before the Community Development Committee and City Commission in December.

 

15702824877_aec18710d0_s.jpg

 

15886600901_160ab311e4_s.jpg

 

 

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It honestly looks like trash. It will further cement Boston Square's less than stellar image of being a low rent business district. And Familly Dollar is like the worst business you would want there anyway.

Rockford should be ashamed of themselves for proposing this. It's like they looked at the neighborhood demographics, and thought that any old carp would do because they won't care.

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It is appropriate for the area and the needs of the surrounding community.

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You guys are repeating what I said.

It looks terrible, but because where it is, the fact that it looks terrible doesn't matter. If this was proposed for the corner of Fulton and Carlton across from Family Fare, people would be having a meltdown.

It's cheaply made, and looks like something that would be on 28th street. And knowing how the Family Dollar on Wealthy looks, with its trashy parking lot and bars on the windows, this is just going to make Boston Square look even worse. Did Rockford just say whatever. People there won't know the difference?

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You guys are repeating what I said.

It looks terrible, but because where it is, the fact that it looks terrible doesn't matter. If this was proposed for the corner of Fulton and Carlton across from Family Fare, people would be having a meltdown.

It's cheaply made, and looks like something that would be on 28th street. And knowing how the Family Dollar on Wealthy looks, with its trashy parking lot and bars on the windows, this is just going to make Boston Square look even worse. Did Rockford just say whatever. People there won't know the difference?

 

Well, Rockford is probably just giving the client whatever they asked for. Though it's possible that the city zoning code/neighborhood pressure is forcing them to put some windows on Kalamazoo side, it will probably only be a couple. More likely, they are just planning a big blank wall, similar to the old Walgreens (now Goodwill) wall that faces Michigan Street at Diamond.  Maybe they'll even give the pedestrians some nice tiny bushes to look at, and some utility connections. <--sarcasm

 

This will be terrible for pedestrians.  And every new development like this that looks like a suburban strip mall plopped down with little thought or design will make it even harder to rebuild the business district from the past few decades of neglect it has endured.

Edited by fotoman311
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Actually Rockford Construction owns all of the land and the buildings on this site.  They bought it for the nice newer pole barn storage facility on the rear of the site which is staying.  After living, working, worshipping in the Boston Square area for 20 years I have to say I am not unhappy about this development.  The Family Dollar will be well utilized by the neighborhood.  The residents at Adams Street Apartments were devastated when Kingma's closed (now a Shell Station).  Many of them are without vehicles.  Family Dollar offers reasonably priced groceries which will be good for them.  There is a VERY high traffic count on Kalamazoo between Burton and Hall and I hope this is the first of many new developments in this forgotten business district.  There is a lot of potential here.

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Actually Rockford Construction owns all of the land and the buildings on this site.  They bought it for the nice newer pole barn storage facility on the rear of the site which is staying.  After living, working, worshipping in the Boston Square area for 20 years I have to say I am not unhappy about this development.  The Family Dollar will be well utilized by the neighborhood.  The residents at Adams Street Apartments were devastated when Kingma's closed (now a Shell Station).  Many of them are without vehicles.  Family Dollar offers reasonably priced groceries which will be good for them.  There is a VERY high traffic count on Kalamazoo between Burton and Hall and I hope this is the first of many new developments in this forgotten business district.  There is a lot of potential here.

 

I agree with most of that.  This seems like all the more reason to make the design more accessible to pedestrians, no? Why is the entrance not on Kalamazoo??

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Is that triangular space behind the store just going to be grass?  That could be used for something pedestrian friendly.  Like an ice cream stand or whatever.  Just by eyeballing the store's dimensions, that looks like about 3000 sq. ft of grass.

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Is that triangular space behind the store just going to be grass?  That could be used for something pedestrian friendly.  Like an ice cream stand or whatever.  Just by eyeballing the store's dimensions, that looks like about 3000 sq. ft of grass.

 

It's likely just grass to fulfill some city regulation that a certain % of the property be devoted to "greenery" or something. Since this development is where every urban design principals went to die, it will likely be in front of a completely blank wall. There is a similar store on Burton in Wyoming whose entire street wall facing Burton is totally blank, so it isn't too far-fetched. Couldn't imagine a sane person would want to be anywhere near this space.

 

I just hope the planning commission demands some serious aesthetic changes. They've completely stopped perfectly reasonable stuff in the past that looked better than what is shown for this.

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I've learned from 30 years living in this neighborhood that new development in the end make a positive contribution. There used to be a grocery and pharmacy on the land now occupied by Walgreens. We were upset when the grocery moved out and sceptical of having Walgreens move in, but they've proven to be a positive presence in the neighborhood. Similarly we were upset when Kingmas closed and sceptical of having a gas station open on that site. But we've come to rely on the convienience of both the gas station and the Subway.

 

In both cases I still miss the more neighborly feel of the small locally owned businesses that used to exist on these sites. But clearly they weren't able to make a living any more in those locations. The profitable businesses that have replaced them offer needed services and employment, and are much to be preferred over empty storefronts.

 

The current project does not even displace a current business. It replaces a ramshackle group of buildings that have been an eyesore for many, many, years. I think it will be a net positive. Don't like the blank wall facing Kalamazoo? It would be interesting to see if Family dollar would be open to a dialogue about turning it into a green wall or perhaps a mural. Fretting about the big triangle of wasted grass? Perhaps they'd be open to working with neighborhood on an edible lanscaping plan. Or turning it into a pocket park. I'm not overly optimistic that they would be open to such an overture. But it is worth a try.

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...
More likely, they are just planning a big blank wall, similar to the old Walgreens (now Goodwill) wall that faces Michigan Street at Diamond. ...

 

Having seen mention of the Goodwill facade's alleged lack of transparency in a couple of places, here are a couple of pics. GW revised the streetwall.

 

 

IMG_20141202_175507476_1.jpg

 

_20141204_224406.jpg

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It honestly looks like trash. It will further cement Boston Square's less than stellar image of being a low rent business district. And Familly Dollar is like the worst business you would want there anyway.

Rockford should be ashamed of themselves for proposing this. It's like they looked at the neighborhood demographics, and thought that any old carp would do because they won't care.

 

I don't disagree with you all that often, but I beg to differ here.  I'm in lighthousedave's camp on this one.  Family Dollar is only a crappy store to have in the neighborhood if you're an automobile driving, middle class person, and don't want a store that intentionally attracts a very different sort of customer.  Family Dollar (quite intentionally) caters to low income persons without vehicles who are typically on some form of assistance.  For the people they serve, the presence of these stores often saves a bus trip or going without.  They know their demographic, and they serve it pretty well.  It's like an inner city Walmart for those who don't have enough money or mobility to go to Walmart.

 

Not every neighborhood in Grand Rapids is on the cusp of turning into a middle class hipster enclave.  This is one of those that probably isn't.  Maybe it isn't great design, but it's at least a place to shop. 

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Don't recall much of an uproar when Family Dollar put one up on Remembrance just north of Leonard which isn't exactly a low income area.  Maybe because a Dollar General was already there and opened when the economy tanked.  Didn't last long though.

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I don't disagree with you all that often, but I beg to differ here.  I'm in lighthousedave's camp on this one.  Family Dollar is only a crappy store to have in the neighborhood if you're an automobile driving, middle class person, and don't want a store that intentionally attracts a very different sort of customer.  Family Dollar (quite intentionally) caters to low income persons without vehicles who are typically on some form of assistance.  For the people they serve, the presence of these stores often saves a bus trip or going without.  They know their demographic, and they serve it pretty well.  It's like an inner city Walmart for those who don't have enough money or mobility to go to Walmart.

 

Not every neighborhood in Grand Rapids is on the cusp of turning into a middle class hipster enclave.  This is one of those that probably isn't.  Maybe it isn't great design, but it's at least a place to shop. 

 

 

Honestly a dollar store isnt really what I object to. I'm a loyal Dollar Tree fanatic myself.

 

This neighborhood really just deserves better than cheap, trashy buildings. Not expecting East Hills or Gaselight Village at all, but why should this area not have decent-looking developments, that at least follows some urbanism, just because it isnt either of those places? Again, just because of the area and its demographics does not mean these people are that desperate, and this should be seen as good enough because it's something. That's a bad standard to set because it will just keep inviting more and more cheap buildings, and will further make the area less attractive.

 

Basic urban design principals are supposed to mean something for everyone because they do lead to a better environment, which leads to a better life. Poorly-designed environments just invites bad elements, and I've seen this in Boston Square for a long time because my family lived just right up the hill off of Adams from 1987-2007. The area has just seemed to stumble and limp the whole 20 years especially after the really good grocery closed. It's bad enough that that stupid liquor store right across the street from this site, not to mention even the Shell station, has been a magnet for robberies and shootings the past 6 years, the way this building is guaranteed to look at this point will just give more visual conformation that no one expects anything from Boston Square but a continued downward trajectory.

 

We only need to look at Hall and Madison to see that a neighborhood doesn't have to always aim for the the bottom of the barrel because the expectations are low.

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x99, on 05 Dec 2014 - 09:51 AM, said:

Not every neighborhood in Grand Rapids is on the cusp of turning into a middle class hipster enclave.  This is one of those that probably isn't.  Maybe it isn't great design, but it's at least a place to shop. 

 

Yes, the closure of other 'nicer' stores is a lesson that reality trumps idealism, not too different for all the angst that 28th St seems to rub on some in serving a vital role like it or not. 

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funny how theres negativity regarding development of a rather struggling area of town. Although I will argue Dollar Tree is better than the family dollar and the general because everything is actually a dollar! 

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funny how theres negativity regarding development of a rather struggling area of town. Although I will argue Dollar Tree is better than the family dollar and the general because everything is actually a dollar! 

 

There are two kinds of dollar stores. Dollar-and-up's and Dollar-and-under's. Dollar Tree is a Dollar-and-Under. Learned that from a close friend of mine who's very frugal when shopping.

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well theres a lot I wouldnt buy from a "dollar" store but for the things I would, I would rather pay a dollar than more. 

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