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GRDadof3

Downtown Living

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Keep in mind that I am NOT a developer or realtor looking to do research, but merely a curious forumer ;)

For those forumers (like me) who don't live downtown, and aren't planning to move, I was wondering what would interest you, or is preventing you, from living downtown. Is it:

Perception of the school system

Lack of housing options (would you like to see something different downtown)

Homeless people South of downtown

Crime and/or gangs (although not really right downtown)

Parking

Etc.

For me (and moreso my wife), it is the school situation. We go to an inner-ring suburban district, but I find it to be pretty plain vanilla. I would like to give my kids some more exposure to the world, but I also want them to be prepared to go on to a GOOD college. We did send my daughter to a Spanish emersion school for pre-school, which I thought was excellent.

Sorry to ramble, but I was curious after reading the demographics page.

Jeff

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Housing options and safety. I would like a place where I could have a small yard for the dog, feel safe at night walking the dog and have easy access to a car. Having to walk a few blocks with groceries in the winter does not appeal. Give me a townhome, on the river, overlooking the skyline, 3000 sqft, granite countertops, all for 150,000. I am there. Oh, and add an other dog park in front of the Ford Museum.

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For me (and moreso my wife), it is the school situation.  We go to an inner-ring suburban district, but I find it to be pretty plain vanilla.  I would like to give my kids some more exposure to the world, but I also want them to be prepared to go on to a GOOD college.  We did send my daughter to a Spanish emersion school for pre-school, which I thought was excellent.

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My children both graduated from Ottawa Hills, which is anything by vanilla. Currently Ottawa Hills is about 80% African American and 15% Hispanic. Needless to say my kids were in the extreme minority all 4 years of their high school experience.

Both of my children received a vary good education. Education is more than academics. My daughter went from Ottawa Hills to Aquinas, a GOOD college. She finished her freshman year with a 3.8 GPA...not too shabby. REcently my daughter transfered to Grand Valley State and finished her junior year with a 3.9. She transfered to Grand Valley because Aquinas was too white and too upper middle class. Once you experience diversity you cannot go back.

My son just graduated and had military aspirations. He was recruited by every major military college in the US, heavily by West Point. To our dismay, he went enlisted. My point, however is that he did great academically.

Both of my children are extremely comfortable in any neighborhood, in any setting, in any cultural group, and in any socio-economic class. This to my wife and I has been more important than mere academics.

My wife and I have lived in what most would consider a "bad" neighborhood for 13 years. We have never been robbed, never been hassled. People fear what they do not know or experience. I wish people would stop living in fear.

To be honest, I fear the suburbs!

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I am moving from a large home in a suburb of metro Detroit to Union Square. I wanted an different life style. I am ok with walking to grocery store and no longer the heated multi car garage. I will miss my yard, etc. Grand Rapids is not Chicago (yet) but I need to stay in Michigan for my job. No place is perfectly safe, we have plenty of break ins and theft in the Suburbs. My children are in college and honestly I need a change.

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3000 sqft, granite countertops, all for 150,000.

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3000 sq ft for $150,000. I would buy a dozen of them at that price :P

Dave:

I don't think it is necessarily fear that is holding us back, but moreso the track record of Grand Rapids schools. If you look at test scores, graduation rates, the current absency problems, it does not sound very appealing.

With that being said, if I could find a vacant lot to build a new home on, I would strongly consider it in an up and coming area.

Edit: absenteeism (can't believe I said absency :blush: )

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3000 sq ft for $150,000.  I would buy a dozen of them at that price :P

Dave:

I don't think it is necessarily fear that is holding us back, but moreso the track record of Grand Rapids schools.  If you look at test scores, graduation rates, the current absency problems, it does not sound very appealing.

With that being said, if I could find a vacant lot to build a new home on, I would strongly consider it in an up and coming area.

Edit:  absenteeism (can't believe I said absency :blush: )

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I know what you mean about the problems you have listed. In fact all of those problems do exist in GRPS. However, none of those problems have to affect your child.

I am very glad that you did not list crime, drugs, etc. There is a perception that GRPS is not safe. While these negative influences do exist in GRPS, they also exist in suburban schools. Actually statistically drugs are a worse problem in suburban schools. Drug usage is signigicantly higher with suburban youth than urban youth.

On another note. Good luck finding that empty lot. There are only a few buildable empty lots left in the city. There are, however, some really cool homes that are badly in need ot rehab. I think the Baxter neighborhood is a really hot neighborhood right now, especially streets like Bates, Sherman, Dunham, and Thomas.

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If I were still in Grand Rapids, I probably would not live "downtown." I would likely live in a neighborhood like Heritage Hill or Eastown.

I like neighborhoods from the early 20th century with great old homes, tree lined streets and local business nearby that you can walk to. As far a new construction, I love the Cherry Street/Fairmount Square town homes that Second Story and Bazzani are planning.

Lighthouse Dave is right. That whole area bounded by Wealthy, Fuller, Franklin, and Gladstone? are full of great homes that could be turned around. I had a friend that bought a rehabbed American Foursquare on Sherman just west of Ethel in the late 90's for $65,000. She sold it last year for $100K.

When we lived in Chicago we were in a two flat on a tree lined street of single family, two and three flats and apartments buildings all close to businesses. We could walk to Jewel or to great restaurants and shops. I have never been a fan of living in a high-rise surrounded by concrete, and there is a ton of that here too.

As far as living downtown, crime is not really an issue in the central district (or most places in GR for that matter), but schools can be an issue. I'm glad to see that the people of GR have agreed to invest in their schools with the multi million dollar bond issue to fix and rebuild facilities. That

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IAnd maybe someday we can move downtown when the kids are out of the house ;)

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That is exactly what my wife and I did. We built our won loft in an abandoned building after my son left for the army. Kind of wierd, now with no kids twice the space and twice the bathrooms. Oh well...sorry kids.

If anyone wants to check out some before and after photos of our place you can check them out here:

http://lighthousecommunities.org/1153_madison.htm

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That is exactly what my wife and I did.  We built our won loft in an abandoned building after my son left for the army.  Kind of wierd, now with no kids twice the space and twice the bathrooms.  Oh well...sorry kids.

If anyone wants to check out some before and after photos of our place you can check them out here:

http://lighthousecommunities.org/1153_madison.htm

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I drive by that building a lot and never would have guessed that that was upstairs.. nice work. :D

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That is exactly what my wife and I did.  We built our won loft in an abandoned building after my son left for the army.  Kind of wierd, now with no kids twice the space and twice the bathrooms.  Oh well...sorry kids.

If anyone wants to check out some before and after photos of our place you can check them out here:

http://lighthousecommunities.org/1153_madison.htm

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Wow Dave! That's awesome. Is that you and the kids in the photos, and did you do most of the work? That renovation deserves a showcasing in Grand Rapids Magazine or something. Woz, are you there???

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Wow Dave!  That's awesome.  Is that you and the kids in the photos, and did you do most of the work?  That renovation deserves a showcasing in Grand Rapids Magazine or something.  Woz, are you there???

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My wife and I did all of the design, color and material choices. That is my wife and son in one of the photos. The younger kid in the other photo is a friend of ours they spent the day helping do demo.

My wife and I and a lot of good friends did a LOT of work on the building. I did all the painting, installed marble in the bathroom, insulated the WHOLE building, and put down bamboo flooring. We literally scooped out 4-30 gal bags of human and animal waste, and 4-40 yard dumpsters of crap from a building that was already gutted when we got it.

Lots of people that see it say it should be featured in a magazine. Actually we are open to it because I think it highlights the kind of pearls you can find in many GR Central City neighborhoods. You just have to have a sense of adventure and vision.

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We literally scooped out 4-30 gal bags of human and animal waste, and 4-40 yard dumpsters of crap from a building that was already gutted when we got it.

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I almost hurled when I read that part :sick: The key question is, did you get to drive the bobcat in the 2nd pic? ;)

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"Lots of people that see it say it should be featured in a magazine. Actually we are open to it because I think it highlights the kind of pearls you can find in many GR Central City neighborhoods. You just have to have a sense of adventure and vision. "

^a progressive mind like that and we'll have lots of people moving into GR.

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I think it highlights the kind of pearls you can find in many GR Central City neighborhoods.  You just have to have a sense of adventure and vision.

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So... can you find ME one? :D

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