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GRDadof3

New Apartment Complex at Lake Michigan & Lexington

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Additionally, back in 2004 Zimmerman-Volk did a market analysis of the region (Kent and Ottawa Co.) for the GVMC. Zimmerman-Volk is a nationally recognized firm for market studies. The study is calibrated to the transect. T6 is the most urban core area and T5 is the next step down. The near west side may resemble T5.

Yearly market capture for towhouses in the more urban zones (indicated as T6 and T5) is 50 in T6 and 105 in T5. Since 2004, there has been very little capture within these zones for townhouses. If we are looking for 155 townhouse units in the more urban areas per year, then we are behind. Link to executive summary is below:

Careful on that one GRTP. The Zimmerman Volk study was not a statement of anticipated "demand", or untapped demand. I think many people misread it as that, when in fact they put that disclaimer in the report. In fact, I'm not quite sure what the study was. Maybe you know more. Was it just an assessment of what would "fit" in particular areas, based on available space?

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... The west side has excellent bones, it has excellent location, it has two viable institutions (GVSU and John Ball Zoo) as anchors and it has many sound, locally owned businesses in its business corridors. It is also very compact and walkable, something that was highlighted in a Dan Burden walkability study a few years back. Dan Burden is a nationally recognized walkability expert.

And the west side has good skin too with the Parkway Tropics halfway between those two other viable institutions smack dab in the middle of a nice residential neighborhood.

Sorry, I know this was a serious discussion but I couldn't resist.

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I think that it is a perception issue. If it is perceived as a wonderful place by the majority, then it will become that. However to change the perception people are going to need to see changes that improve the quality of living.

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As there seems to be a LOT of passionate rhetoric on this thread about the west side being a healthy, vital neighborhood that needs nothing more than a few refitted pipes, a couple of new windows and a nice coat of paint, I did a quick search for property available in this area...

The area boarded by Bridge, Seward, Lake Michigan Drive and Straight has about two dozen properties currently for sale, with a decent number of them well under $100k, and almost all under $130k. I am no construction expert, but my guess is that a bunch of these homes aren't worth much more than the value of the land that they sit on, as they would cost almost double the purchase price to update. Based stricly on what I see driving by these homes and now seeing what they sell for, it is hard for me to believe that this is a "healthy, viable neighborhood" that needs to be left alone so that it can internally turn itself into the next great historic district of Grand Rapids. I do not consider myself a "house snob", but I would not live in these structures.

IMO, it is (or at least was before it caught the eyes of developers) a dying neighborhood that is being resusitated not by its current residents, but by new development and the replacement of properties that have outlived themselves.

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So, in the future when we are starving for transportation fuel do we want a bunch of apartments near our work centers or do we want homes? The homes on the lower west side, by national standards are dirt cheap, buy them now and fix them up and you are making a sound investment. Tear them down and build apartments and you have well, nothing.

So what do you have against apartments? What, are the only people that can live in Grand Rapids are those who can afford a house or some high priced condo/loft? I dont consider it to be nothing to have places like that near the DT area. Those people should have a place as well.

You can eaisly have both of these things in the city.

I swear too many people just treat renters as sub-human/

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The politics of rezoning approvals is an art and I don't think that this project was well represented at any of the meetings. Unfortunately, it went down so hard that it will be a long time before the commission will want to consider a similar proposal.

What do you mean by these two sentences? How could the project have been better represented and how do you think things could have gone any other way with the commission?

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What do you mean by these two sentences? How could the project have been better represented and how do you think things could have gone any other way with the commission?

The developer is a very good lawyer, but I didn't see him engage the planning commission or the city commission in any productive debate about issues that might have influenced the outcome. He preached the master plan pretty well, but I didn't hear any convincing arguments about land use, adjacency issues, land values, positive impact of investment in an area, lack of interest in detached homes, recent changes in the neighborhood (YMCA, GVSU ramp), future changes in Seward (extensions south and north), etc.

In addition, the history of the site was known. He should have spent time with JJ and Roy and understood the background and the frustration. Since the earlier "deal" was cut with the city there have been many significant changes in the immediate area (Y and ramp) that justify a new deal. He might have directly discussed that past and the current reality with both commissions.

I don't know for a fact, but given the very effective opposition from a relative small number of neighbors, I don't think he spent much time understanding the neighbor's point of view or meeting with the association.

He then called for a vote knowing the outcome. It is always better to be tabled than turned down and there is almost always a way to get an application tabled.

Unfortunately, once they vote it is real hard to come back and engage them in any meaningful conversation about a similar project.

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The developer is a very good lawyer, but I didn't see him engage the planning commission or the city commission in any productive debate about issues that might have influenced the outcome. He preached the master plan pretty well, but I didn't hear any convincing arguments about land use, adjacency issues, land values, positive impact of investment in an area, lack of interest in detached homes, recent changes in the neighborhood (YMCA, GVSU ramp), future changes in Seward (extensions south and north), etc.

In addition, the history of the site was known. He should have spent time with JJ and Roy and understood the background and the frustration. Since the earlier "deal" was cut with the city there have been many significant changes in the immediate area (Y and ramp) that justify a new deal. He might have directly discussed that past and the current reality with both commissions.

He covered some of that stuff with the planning commission, but do you really need to tell the city commission members things like property values will increase or new single family homes wouldn't be feasible? I would think they understand things like this already. I wish I could have been there; after reading this it sounds like the deal was killed out of spite for the current land owner.

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The land is still owned by a developer who had the desire to make money on his investment. I would assume that something will eventally get built here, either by the current land-owner or by whomever he sells the land to, and that it won't be single-family homes as this would not be a wise use of the land any longer. It might just take some time and a little determination by someone to get a project through all the red tape.

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Do we know the developer owns the land? I would assume he just has an option on it which protects him in cases like this where his plan is rejected.

-nb

Developers give up on W. Side apartment project

The land is owned by Jeff Boorsma, who I think is a West side business owner as opposed to a developer.

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"First Ward Commissioner Roy Schmidt, the swing vote in the 4-3 decision, said he liked the project, but voted against it because it would put too many residents and cars in the neighborhood."

Too many residents? Are you _____ing kidding me? I thought this place was three blocks from downtown...a place where there are SUPPOSED to be lots of residents! Or would he prefer a city full of empty, dilapidated houses?

And wasn't there a complaint the first time around about there not being enough places for cars? Now there would be too many cars?

This developer must be ready to go crazy. If I were him, I wouldn't bother with this project anymore, either.

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"First Ward Commissioner Roy Schmidt, the swing vote in the 4-3 decision, said he liked the project, but voted against it because it would put too many residents and cars in the neighborhood."

Too many residents? Are you _____ing kidding me? I thought this place was three blocks from downtown...a place where there are SUPPOSED to be lots of residents! Or would he prefer a city full of empty, dilapidated houses?

And wasn't there a complaint the first time around about there not being enough places for cars? Now there would be too many cars?

This developer must be ready to go crazy. If I were him, I wouldn't bother with this project anymore, either.

Talk about a City that says they have a direction, but when it comes down to making an important decision they don't know what way they want to go.... pretty sad :angry:

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The City has a "master plan" and somewhat vague guidelines as to what it wants to be built in various parts of GR. Why can't a committee of people representing various interests (politicians, developers, citizens, business owners, etc.) be created, given a small amount of funding/stipend (there's apparently plenty to go around if over $100k can be thrown at someone to create "keep it a secret") and a deadline, a map, some crayons to outline different portions of the city on this map, and a cheap laptop to create a simple old spreadsheet that very clearly states what will be acceptable and unacceptable development? It seems like a LOT of honest money is being thrown into the wind, and developers scared off, but a very inefficient status quo system of guesswork. If I were a developer, I wouldn't want to deal with all of the personal agendas, misrepresentations, and general blunderings that the current elected officials seem to be displaying time and time again.

It's kind of sad that projects like this end up being killed, and in the end all that's left is mud all over the city's name that has at the same approved some great projects such as those covering Medical Hill, the GRAM, Marriott, Ionia Ave and Monroe Ave...

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If I were a developer, I wouldn't want to deal with all of the personal agendas, misrepresentations, and general blunderings that the current elected officials seem to be displaying time and time again.

It really does seem like the current group of City Commissioners don't have a clue about what they are doing and don't seem to have any plan. Maybe next time around we need to pay a little closer attention to the local elections and get behind some of the challengers of the 'question-mark' ones. Maybe the full-time mayor is looong overdue.

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I know the mentality on the West side hasn't really changed since US 131. The West side had and still has a disconnect and a distrust with government and development. I don't know if the sentiment is at play here, but who knows...? People not from there who come with good intentions, well you know the saying.

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When the Butterworth landfill was capped in 2000, the city held public forums looking for input from residents on what they would like to see on the site. The turn-out was amazing. There was a lot of enthusiasm and many great ideas were put on the table. In 2006, take a look at the site. ...empty.

In 1993, west side residents fought a long battle to stop a half-way house for prison inmates from being constructed at the corner of Wealthy & Front, citing that in the future the half-way house would be a detriment to redevelopment along the river. The half-way house was built anyway. Now, in the advent of redevelopment everyone is scratching their heads and wondering how to develop around a jail facility.

In 2002, west side neighbors fought to stop John Lewis and Kent County from developing and expanding the zoo out into the park fracturing it into cordoned off cyclone fencing and elephants yards from neighbors homes. The neighbors called in Project for Public Spaces experts and a specialist from Ann Arbor. Without the efforts of the neighbors John Ball Park would be history. Fortunately, Lewis is now gone an a creative director from Chicago is now director and the zoo and park are back on the right track.

In the 1980's disregarding concern from west side residents known at the, " KENTuckians" by the Republican powers that were a huge incinerator was built across the Grand River from the neighborhood. If the wind blows north you get the lovely aroma on the west side, if it blows east it travels straight up Franklin St on the SE side.

In the late 1950's, a warehouse owned by a very prominant Dutch businessman was slated for demolition for US131. Instead of toppling the warehouse, an illegal S-curve was routed over and through the Polish working-class neighborhood.

In the early 1990's Summer & Winter Street were torn down by the city. Homeowners were horrified that their homes were the next to be taken and torn down.

In the 1960's the city, with no public input, zoned the neighborhood R-3 the kiss of death for neighborhoods. The door was opened for landlords to purchase homes and convert them into multi-family rentals.

In 2002, the neighborhood rezoned the area to single family auxilery to prevent the conversion of existing single-family homes into multi-family rentals. It worked, conversions slowed and many landlords sold the properties they had neglected to either more responsible landlords or pioneers who are converting the homes back to single-family or 2 units as opposed to the 3 or 4 some of the homes had been chopped up into.

The west side neighbors had the best turnout city wide in the Masterplanning process. The people of the west side are not NIMBY's, they are very active and have developed a vision for their neighborhood that will be beneficial to the neighborhood and the city in the long-term.

I believe the neighbors would welcome with open arms a quality development that did not have a negative impact on their quality of life. In this case, the developer apparently had their hands tied because the landowner made the property too expensive to develop at a reasonable scale.

The west side has a long history of being ignored and ridiculed and it has taken 50 years for them to become proactive and serious about the redevelopment of their community. Good for them.

Look at the strengths of that area. The YMCA, the Youth Commonwealth, a newly constructed public school, family owned businesses, a tight sense of community, Bridge Street, W. Fulton, John Ball Park, the zoo, the GVSU campus, walking distance to downtown attractions, affordable housing, a good ethnic mix, low crime rate. ...

Now all they need is incremental, win-win development.

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I really wish the West siders would put up a bigger fight for the church and nunnery. To me, it's a short term gain for a long term loss. Especially considering how much the West side has been through. Perhaps this apartment project as proposed was the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I'm glad you brought up the new school, Straight Elementary. I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago, and it is very nice looking.

http://web.grps.k12.mi.us/facilities/files...CEF223416B4.pdf

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When the Butterworth landfill was capped in 2000, the city held public forums looking for input from residents on what they would like to see on the site. The turn-out was amazing. There was a lot of enthusiasm and many great ideas were put on the table. In 2006, take a look at the site. ...empty.

In 1993, west side residents fought a long battle to stop a half-way house for prison inmates from being constructed at the corner of Wealthy & Front, citing that in the future the half-way house would be a detriment to redevelopment along the river. The half-way house was built anyway. Now, in the advent of redevelopment everyone is scratching their heads and wondering how to develop around a jail facility.

In 2002, west side neighbors fought to stop John Lewis and Kent County from developing and expanding the zoo out into the park fracturing it into cordoned off cyclone fencing and elephants yards from neighbors homes. The neighbors called in Project for Public Spaces experts and a specialist from Ann Arbor. Without the efforts of the neighbors John Ball Park would be history. Fortunately, Lewis is now gone an a creative director from Chicago is now director and the zoo and park are back on the right track.

In the 1980's disregarding concern from west side residents known at the, " KENTuckians" by the Republican powers that were a huge incinerator was built across the Grand River from the neighborhood. If the wind blows north you get the lovely aroma on the west side, if it blows east it travels straight up Franklin St on the SE side.

In the late 1950's, a warehouse owned by a very prominant Dutch businessman was slated for demolition for US131. Instead of toppling the warehouse, an illegal S-curve was routed over and through the Polish working-class neighborhood.

In the early 1990's Summer & Winter Street were torn down by the city. Homeowners were horrified that their homes were the next to be taken and torn down.

In the 1960's the city, with no public input, zoned the neighborhood R-3 the kiss of death for neighborhoods. The door was opened for landlords to purchase homes and convert them into multi-family rentals.

In 2002, the neighborhood rezoned the area to single family auxilery to prevent the conversion of existing single-family homes into multi-family rentals. It worked, conversions slowed and many landlords sold the properties they had neglected to either more responsible landlords or pioneers who are converting the homes back to single-family or 2 units as opposed to the 3 or 4 some of the homes had been chopped up into.

The west side neighbors had the best turnout city wide in the Masterplanning process. The people of the west side are not NIMBY's, they are very active and have developed a vision for their neighborhood that will be beneficial to the neighborhood and the city in the long-term.

I believe the neighbors would welcome with open arms a quality development that did not have a negative impact on their quality of life. In this case, the developer apparently had their hands tied because the landowner made the property too expensive to develop at a reasonable scale.

The west side has a long history of being ignored and ridiculed and it has taken 50 years for them to become proactive and serious about the redevelopment of their community. Good for them.

Look at the strengths of that area. The YMCA, the Youth Commonwealth, a newly constructed public school, family owned businesses, a tight sense of community, Bridge Street, W. Fulton, John Ball Park, the zoo, the GVSU campus, walking distance to downtown attractions, affordable housing, a good ethnic mix, low crime rate. ...

Now all they need is incremental, win-win development.

Understood. So that in mind I have a question. There is no doubt that GVSU DT is growing at brake neck speed and in turn gaining more students. Its been mentioned that many Westsiders are not too keen of students taking up nearby houses. The proposed apartments, from what I gather, were to cater to students which some West Siders complained about. Obviously the infux of students are going to need a place near GVSU DT to call home. What do you think is the best solution to meet the needs of the students while keeping West Side Residences happy?

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Understood. So that in mind I have a question. There is no doubt that GVSU DT is growing at brake neck speed and in turn gaining more students. Its been mentioned that many Westsiders are not too keen of students taking up nearby houses. The proposed apartments, from what I gather, were to cater to students which some West Siders complained about. Obviously the infux of students are going to need a place near GVSU DT to call home. What do you think is the best solution to meet the needs of the students while keeping West Side Residences happy?

I don't believe that west side residents have a big issue with the students living in the existing housing stock. There are problems, naturally, with couches on porches and beer bottles and loud music from time to time. The upside of having students occupying the homes is that they are accountable to their parents and the Dean of Students.

The issue with GVSU students is that many of them come from deep suburban or rural areas and to their families the near west side is, " ghetto." That, I believe, is slowing the influx of students into the neighborhood as residents. That works to the neighborhood's advantage, actually.

The only downside to the campus is the parking habits of the commuting students. The students do not realize that these homes were constructed in the era when people used horses as their primary means of transportation and driveways are an exception rather than a rule. The GVSU cars line the streets 4 blocks into the neighborhood. I believe that the neighborhood association will soon have to sit down with university officials and work out a solution.

The key to success on the west side will be an integration of students and single family housing. In E. Lansing, what was strictly student ghetto years ago is being reclaimed little by little by professionals who understand and tolerate, to a certain extent, students. However, MSU is a major University and we have to understand that GVSU is still a regional college although it has been growing exponentially. The students all have cars, they grew up in the malls, urban environments are a novelty to them (generally) and they want to go to big, loud bars like Monte's or McFaddans or whatever. That will keep them away from the, "dives" that students from Ann Arbor or even Lansing to a lesser extent would gravitate towards.

I'm not sure that west side neighbors are at all opposed to GVSU students in the neighborhood. ...on the contrary I believe they welcome them into their coffee houses and old barrooms and interesting restaurants.

What a coup it would be if GVSU students discovered the Polish Halls and started becoming members. It would be like having your own private club. Ok, I've said enough.

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I really wish the West siders would put up a bigger fight for the church and nunnery. To me, it's a short term gain for a long term loss. Especially considering how much the West side has been through. Perhaps this apartment project as proposed was the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I'm glad you brought up the new school, Straight Elementary. I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago, and it is very nice looking.

http://web.grps.k12.mi.us/facilities/files...CEF223416B4.pdf

What gives? I am a bit confused, wasn't a beautiful historic school sacrificed to build the new school? Why is it ok to demolish a school and build a new school right next to it, while it is not ok to demolish the church to build townhouses? Where is the outcry?

The GRPS has practiced a Tabula Rasa style development in generating these new schools. The result is no different than the urban renewal being associated with the townhouses. It is the result of the old schools being "obsolete". Although this time, the urban renewal is being paid for by taxpayer dollars and not private funds.

The building is nice looking? It is cookie cutter.

BTW- Grateful, the information that you have posted here is very good, it provides excellent insight into the workings of these neighborhoods and really shows that the residents of the West Side have a strong attachment to their neighborhoods and a strong sense of place. It also shows the long history of citizen involvement and lack of results at the city level.

The new director of the zoo is excellent and the entire city (and region) should be very lucky to have him here. The zoo is an incredible anchor for these neighborhoods and an asset that should be cultivated and maintained properly, which it now is.

And GVSU is the same thing, there just needs to be some compromises where the neighborhoods and campus interface. This "town and gown" concept has always been an issue in places where the two need to co-exist. Ann Arbor and Berkley (I think) are two examples where these two entities have co-existed and in both places, the two entities have been made stronger by their cooperation.

I think in the future, that the west side neighborhoods and businesses will become incredible places, because of the continued growth of the campus and the influx of both students and professionals. So far, most of the campus buildings of GVSU are excellent and have really provided a unique opportunity for this area of our city.

The other thing that needs to happen for these West Side neighborhoods is for them to embrace their proximity to downtown. They are mostly within a very short walk to Monroe Center and this is a very strong asset.

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What gives? I am a bit confused, wasn't a beautiful historic school sacrificed to build the new school? Why is it ok to demolish a school and build a new school right next to it, while it is not ok to demolish the church to build townhouses? Where is the outcry?

The marketplace always rules in the end and that isn't a bad thing.

I heard yesterday that enrollment at the new GR school buildings was up significantly compared to the other buildings. The market perceives the new buildings as being better than paint and patch on an old building. Schools and crime are the biggest reasons families avoid the city. If a new school building enhances the image (marketability) of the GRPS's then bring on the new buildings.

BTW, I also heard that Kalamazoo gained 700 students as the result of the free college money while Detroit lost 20,000 kids.

Regarding the townhouse development, I think the church converted to condos with the apartment building enhance the plan and would make the whole development more attractive (marketable). In that case the removal of the church is a compromise and the project suffers as a result. For me historical preservation wasn't the point.

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What gives? I am a bit confused, wasn't a beautiful historic school sacrificed to build the new school? Why is it ok to demolish a school and build a new school right next to it, while it is not ok to demolish the church to build townhouses? Where is the outcry?

The GRPS has practiced a Tabula Rasa style development in generating these new schools. The result is no different than the urban renewal being associated with the townhouses. It is the result of the old schools being "obsolete". Although this time, the urban renewal is being paid for by taxpayer dollars and not private funds.

The building is nice looking? It is cookie cutter.

To be honest, I didn't see the school that was there before. Yes, I think the school is nice looking, and if all the new schools are getting students and parents excited about the system again, then I think that's even better. It benefits the entire area, not just a couple of developers.

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