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organsnyder

Rockford Construction mixed-use project at Madison Ave and Cottage Grove SE

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Just saw the following announcement on the GPNA Facebook page:

Rockford Construction will be building in our area. The addresses for the proposed developments are 1515 Madison Ave and 355 Cottage Grove St SE.

The plan is for 32 apartment units on the second and third floors, with office and community space on the first floor. SEEDS of Promise will be holding a community meeting with them on March 11th at 1:00 pm at 1408 Madison SE. If you are interested in hearing more about this plan, and have any questions, please be sure to attend this meeting.

This is the first I've heard of this project. Not sure if they are planning to use any of the existing structures. The building on Madison looks like it would be perfect for this sort of re-use: built in 1919, brick, hardwood floors, looks to be in solid shape. Not sure about the rest of the structures on the properties. Also not sure if this is slated to be LIHTC or market rate.

I'm glad to see some activity in that area. There are quite a few other under-utilized properties, including some other large old industrial spaces (at least one of which has the Azzar name on it).

Edited by organsnyder

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The building with The Hubb LLC painted on it?

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4 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

The building with The Hubb LLC painted on it?

Yes, Rockford bought it from the Land Bank a couple years ago.  Nice inside deal that never hit the market ;)

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Looks like LINC might be looking for a bit more info on this project:

 

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Wow. The proposal [PDF] is quite fascinating. This is a lot bigger than a single multi-use development.

I'm torn on this. On the one hand, I'm extremely excited to see this sort of attention—by a for-profit developer—finally being paid to this area. There is a lot of potential here, and the Cottage Grove industrial sites are somewhat of a wasteland. However, their apparent lack of community involvement is concerning: In addition to LINC's concerns, I never once heard anything about this during my three years on the GPNA board (my term just ended this year), even though half of the Cottage Grove area highlighted in their plan is within GPNA boundaries.

The proposal is certainly written with investors as the primary audience rather than the community. Hopefully they will improve their communication with the neighborhoods going forward.

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58 minutes ago, organsnyder said:

Wow. The proposal [PDF] is quite fascinating. This is a lot bigger than a single multi-use development.

I'm torn on this. On the one hand, I'm extremely excited to see this sort of attention—by a for-profit developer—finally being paid to this area. There is a lot of potential here, and the Cottage Grove industrial sites are somewhat of a wasteland. However, their apparent lack of community involvement is concerning: In addition to LINC's concerns, I never once heard anything about this during my three years on the GPNA board (my term just ended this year), even though half of the Cottage Grove area highlighted in their plan is within GPNA boundaries.

The proposal is certainly written with investors as the primary audience rather than the community. Hopefully they will improve their communication with the neighborhoods going forward.

Well with my elementary education level in property development :), tying up the properties with option agreements does have to be done in "secrecy" because once word gets out, the remaining property owners start jacking up their prices and the project could become non-viable. And I'm sure they're just options at this point in time for most of it. Edit: it actually spells that out on page 31.

It does seem more like a prospectus to investors, rather than a plan being presented to the city or the neighborhood.

Once they get all of the properties on option agreements, and investors interested, then to me the next step is community engagement to see what kinds of jobs and residential units people in the neighborhood would like to see (since diversity of housing and increasing employment in that area are two of the stated goals of the plan).

Another edit: page 26 lays out the community engagement portion, and different organizations that they may reach out to. LINC's one complaint was that they were named as a "partner" on this project, which I can't seem to find. Only LINC is shown as an organization that they've had initial conversations with.

Interesting conundrum.

 

 

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I've just heard that this document was indeed not intended for public consumption. As the document lays out, they're just beginning the very early stages of community engagement.

I agree with GRDad—they couldn't possibly have planned this project in the open. LINC, as a developer themselves, should know this.

This is an extremely exciting development. I am still concerned about the racial, class, and insider-vs-outsider conflicts that are inherent to a project such as this (and shame on LINC for fanning the flames [or perhaps lighting the spark] before the project was even announced), but Rockford's approach appears to have the best interests of the neighbors in mind. I'm very familiar with their Cottage Grove target area (I live just a half-block outside of it), and it has always seemed to me to be a perfect opportunity for development. Many of the properties are vacant or underutilized (Azzar owns some of them), and the surrounding neighborhoods are fairly stable. This project looks more like an attempt to strengthen the existing community, rather than a greedy outsider capitalist looking to smother and supplant it.

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24 minutes ago, organsnyder said:

Sounds like Rockford's plans are moving forward. Interestingly, part of it involves purchasing land from LINC:

http://www.rapidgrowthmedia.com/features/111016-On-The-Ground9.aspx

Interesting. I would say that with the Doug and Maria Devos Foundation involved, I doubt it will just be made into your run-of-the-mill mixed use project. Unlike some of the more controversial investments from the other Devos foundations, Doug and Maria Devos have given a lot to GRPS, including UPrep and other initiatives. 

We shall see.

 

 

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On 3/4/2016 at 7:42 AM, organsnyder said:

Just saw the following announcement on the GPNA Facebook page:

Rockford Construction will be building in our area. The addresses for the proposed developments are 1515 Madison Ave and 355 Cottage Grove St SE.

The plan is for 32 apartment units on the second and third floors, with office and community space on the first floor. SEEDS of Promise will be holding a community meeting with them on March 11th at 1:00 pm at 1408 Madison SE. If you are interested in hearing more about this plan, and have any questions, please be sure to attend this meeting.

This is the first I've heard of this project. Not sure if they are planning to use any of the existing structures. The building on Madison looks like it would be perfect for this sort of re-use: built in 1919, brick, hardwood floors, looks to be in solid shape. Not sure about the rest of the structures on the properties. Also not sure if this is slated to be LIHTC or market rate.

I'm glad to see some activity in that area. There are quite a few other under-utilized properties, including some other large old industrial spaces (at least one of which has the Azzar name on it).

I believe I had heard they intended to renovate and use the existing brick building and then continue to develop around it.

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There are currently no development plans for this site.  In fact Urban Roots was told that they can continue their operations there next season and are encouraged to continue to engage in the planning process for this area as urban farming most certainly can and should fit in the redevelopment plans for the area in the right location and context.

 

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7 hours ago, lighthousedave said:

There are currently no development plans for this site.  In fact Urban Roots was told that they can continue their operations there next season and are encouraged to continue to engage in the planning process for this area as urban farming most certainly can and should fit in the redevelopment plans for the area in the right location and context.

 

Thanks for intel Dave! 

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Resurrecting this thread, since this project is picking up steam, in a much larger form (the thread should probably be renamed). This article (which includes remarks from our own lighthousedave) was just posted : http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/06/devos_family_effort_to_reshape.html

I'm torn on this. I'm excited to see the area finally getting interest, and I don't doubt that AmplifyGR and Rockford really have altruistic motives. However, as a lifelong resident of these neighborhoods (grew up just north of Boston Square, now living just south of the Cottage Grove target area), I'm concerned that this effort—no matter how many community managers are hired—can avoid paternalism (or, at the very least, the perception of it).

Jeff Smith at GRIID has written some articles on this as well, which I (somewhat reluctantly) shared on social media a week or so ago. I have some serious issues with his antagonistic tone, but there are some valid concerns underneath all of the vitriol.

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My family lived just up the hill by Benjamin and Adams from 1987-2008 ish.

I'm thrilled to see this effort made. The area took a massive dive over the past 30 years, especially after losing Kingma's and later Boston House, not to mention several other stabilizing entities. The (shocker) liquor store and the Shell station have attracted multiple shootings over the years and the area just deserves better.

And to see people in the article more happy with the mediocrity, or the Mlive boilerplate "I hate DeVos" sentiment? That is just selfish more so than some fear of "gentrification".

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32 minutes ago, organsnyder said:

Resurrecting this thread, since this project is picking up steam, in a much larger form (the thread should probably be renamed). This article (which includes remarks from our own lighthousedave) was just posted : http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/06/devos_family_effort_to_reshape.html

I'm torn on this. I'm excited to see the area finally getting interest, and I don't doubt that AmplifyGR and Rockford really have altruistic motives. However, as a lifelong resident of these neighborhoods (grew up just north of Boston Square, now living just south of the Cottage Grove target area), I'm concerned that this effort—no matter how many community managers are hired—can avoid paternalism (or, at the very least, the perception of it).

Jeff Smith at GRIID has written some articles on this as well, which I (somewhat reluctantly) shared on social media a week or so ago. I have some serious issues with his antagonistic tone, but there are some valid concerns underneath all of the vitriol.

It will be interesting to see if this project finally manages to make a difference in the area, and how they go about it.  If they really want to make a difference though, and avoid charges of "paternalism" simply converting old buildings into housing or dumping money into refurbishing properties is not going to do it.  There is fairly strong support for the idea that one of the most significant difficulties facing black communities is often lack of access to capital.  The wealth gap between black families and white families is astonishing.  I don't know what the statistics are in this particular neighborhood, but at least on a national level the average net worth of a black family is about $10,000.00.  See http://www.epi.org/blog/the-racial-wealth-gap-how-african-americans-have-been-shortchanged-out-of-the-materials-to-build-wealth/.  And that isn't "cash in the bank".  That's the value of every single last thing they own--a handful of the latest Apple cell phones.

It seems to me that it would make sense to take that old Dexter Lock factory and actually use it.  Start a business as a charitable business that does not necessarily have as its primary goal the goal of making money, but of providing jobs to people who live in the area.  If the business loses money, fund the losses, and start another one.  When they hit on a good one, turn the business into an employee-owned business.  Distributing capital in this fashion, coupled with economic education programs at the workplace just might give disadvantaged communities an opportunity to build capital and a decent future.  I don't know exactly what they are planning, but if it doesn't include putting decent paying jobs back in the neighborhood, and an education component about building and maintaining capital, it's probably not going to work as much more than another gritty-urban-chic-overrun-by-hipsters venture.   

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47 minutes ago, x99 said:

It seems to me that it would make sense to take that old Dexter Lock factory and actually use it.  Start a business as a charitable business that does not necessarily have as its primary goal the goal of making money, but of providing jobs to people who live in the area.  If the business loses money, fund the losses, and start another one.  When they hit on a good one, turn the business into an employee-owned business.

I'll invite you to put up your money to see how that goes.:lol:

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17 minutes ago, GR_Urbanist said:

I'll invite you to put up your money to see how that goes.:lol:

I'm not the the one planning to fund a large charitable effort to revitalize an area.  I don't think my money would go nearly far enough. :)  And it at least sounds like this is not an effort to make money by DeVos/Rockford, but an effort to help people.

My point is that the way "charity" is done to try to "revitalize" often does not make sense because it does relatively little to help the people who actually live in an area, and who need access to a job that offers reasonable pay, medical care, and the potential for building and maintaining wealth.  It's certainly not a widely pursued charitable model, but one would think it might be appealing to people like the DeVos family.  They built a (reportedly) money-losing hotel to rebuild a downtown. Why not build a business that does the same thing to rebuild a neighborhood?  And include the promise that if the business works, the workers who built it will own a share?  A $16(?) an hour factory job at a place with benefits, a company doctor,  financial counseling, and fat year-end bonuses paid in the form of stock portfolios or mortgage pay downs would be a hot ticket.  The cost of any losses would be peanuts compared to what the revitalization otherwise would cost.  Done well, the wealth building effects could be transformational for the area and the people who live there.

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3 hours ago, x99 said:

I'm not the the one planning to fund a large charitable effort to revitalize an area.  I don't think my money would go nearly far enough. :)  And it at least sounds like this is not an effort to make money by DeVos/Rockford, but an effort to help people.

My point is that the way "charity" is done to try to "revitalize" often does not make sense because it does relatively little to help the people who actually live in an area, and who need access to a job that offers reasonable pay, medical care, and the potential for building and maintaining wealth.  It's certainly not a widely pursued charitable model, but one would think it might be appealing to people like the DeVos family.  They built a (reportedly) money-losing hotel to rebuild a downtown. Why not build a business that does the same thing to rebuild a neighborhood?  And include the promise that if the business works, the workers who built it will own a share?  A $16(?) an hour factory job at a place with benefits, a company doctor,  financial counseling, and fat year-end bonuses paid in the form of stock portfolios or mortgage pay downs would be a hot ticket.  The cost of any losses would be peanuts compared to what the revitalization otherwise would cost.  Done well, the wealth building effects could be transformational for the area and the people who live there.

I think you are accurately describing the motivation and planning behind this effort.

They are trying something more than just putting new buildings in a neighborhood. They are attempting to address the structural barriers to economic success in the area (access to capital, education and job training, etc).

It will be fascinating to watch this evolve as we learn more detail about how they plan to approach the issues.

In the end, I hope they are successful.

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10 hours ago, x99 said:

I'm not the the one planning to fund a large charitable effort to revitalize an area.  I don't think my money would go nearly far enough. :)  And it at least sounds like this is not an effort to make money by DeVos/Rockford, but an effort to help people.

My point is that the way "charity" is done to try to "revitalize" often does not make sense because it does relatively little to help the people who actually live in an area, and who need access to a job that offers reasonable pay, medical care, and the potential for building and maintaining wealth.  It's certainly not a widely pursued charitable model, but one would think it might be appealing to people like the DeVos family.  They built a (reportedly) money-losing hotel to rebuild a downtown. Why not build a business that does the same thing to rebuild a neighborhood?  And include the promise that if the business works, the workers who built it will own a share?  A $16(?) an hour factory job at a place with benefits, a company doctor,  financial counseling, and fat year-end bonuses paid in the form of stock portfolios or mortgage pay downs would be a hot ticket.  The cost of any losses would be peanuts compared to what the revitalization otherwise would cost.  Done well, the wealth building effects could be transformational for the area and the people who live there.

Sounds like a "social entrepreneurship" business model x99. What are you waiting for? 

I think one of the best upwardly mobile programs in the Grand Rapids area right now is the Challenge Scholars program put on by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Free college education for kids who go all the way through GRPS west side schools to high school graduation. Devos' should look at funding a similar phase II of this program in the Southtown area. 

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12 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

Devos' should look at funding a similar phase II of this program in the Southtown area. 

Charters and vouchers only for them. 

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http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/06/amplify_gr_greeted_with_skepti.html

I was at the meeting last night (nice to finally meet you in person, @KCLBADave!). I felt that the people on stage made a compelling case that they really are trying to have the best interests of the neighborhood in mind. The protesters raised some valid concerns, but much of the delivery was not constructive, IMHO. I also get the feeling that many of the protesters don't live in the neighborhood, either—they have their own "outsider savior" mentality coming into this.

AmplifyGR's critics seem to have impossible expectations at this point: They seemed unhappy that there weren't concrete plans presented; however, had there been concrete plans, they would have been screaming about the "done deal" that was developed without neighborhood involvement. If you take AmplifyGR at their word (and I do), they really don't have many concrete plans, beyond a portfolio of properties that they want to develop. Multiple times, they implored the audience to visit the AmplifyGR office and provide feedback. I hope that everyone—especially the protestors—take them up on that, and try to have a constructive dialogue.

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I think for many people, they hear the name Devos and they're immediately reaching for the panic button and assuming the worst.  Unfortunately, some Devos family members have done the name a disservice.  I too would like to believe Doug's heart is in the right place.

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It's one of the reasons I've developed an "ignore them" attitude over the years when it has come to NIMBYS and BANANAs.

The fears some have are wholly unfounded and are a tad bit selfish. These guys have a right to buy property, and either fix it up or put in something new and great. No more discussion needed.

Developers are showing a courtesy by having these meetings to get feedback because they want to be good neighbors, but too often people get the idea that they have been hired as co-CEOs, and that they have a veto over whatever happens.

So just build and renovate. People that want a nicer neighborhood will be happy with the results in the long run.

 

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Posted (edited)

MLive put together a good slideshow of the properties purchased so far:
http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/07/amplify_gr_spent_10m_to_buy_th.html

 

On 7/6/2017 at 11:13 AM, GR_Urbanist said:

It's one of the reasons I've developed an "ignore them" attitude over the years when it has come to NIMBYS and BANANAs.

My suspicion is that many of the most vocal opponents are not neighborhood residents at all, but are instead people focused on opposing a purported DeVos agenda. While I sympathize with their concerns (to an extent), the opponents are committing one of the very sins that they're (unfairly, IMHO) accusing Amplify of, by treating the neighborhood and its residents as pawns in a bigger political game rather than really trying to find the solutions that most benefit the existing residents.

Edited by organsnyder
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1 hour ago, organsnyder said:

MLive put together a good slideshow of the properties purchased so far:
http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/07/amplify_gr_spent_10m_to_buy_th.html

 

My suspicion is that many of the most vocal opponents are not neighborhood residents at all, but are instead people focused on opposing a purported DeVos agenda. While I sympathize with their concerns (to an extent), the opponents are committing one of the very sins that they're (unfairly, IMHO) accusing Amplify of, by treating the neighborhood and its residents as pawns in a bigger political game rather than really trying to find the solutions that most benefit the existing residents.

Wow, Harger spent a lot of time on that article. Well done. I can't believe how many properties there are involved in this. 

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