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joeDowntown

Heritage Hill - Historic Gem of the City?

Heritage Hill Poll   118 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you think of Heritage Hill?

    • It is a historic treasure and should be celebrated
      84
    • It is a gentrified neighborhood that thinks too highly of itself
      13
    • It is a neighborhood with big houses but too many rentals
      29
    • Heritage what? It needs an identity
      2

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43 posts in this topic

What do you think of our historic neighborhood to the east? It has been celebrated for years for the preservation efforts of its owners but is it enough? Does it have enough services to be considered it's own self-contained neighborhood? Do you think Heritage Hill does enough to entice people to live in the city? Are there too many absentee landlords?

And for that matter, what do you think Heritage Hill could do to make it a better area to live?

Joe

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I think it's almost perfect just the way it is. Great mix of incomes and backgrounds, wonderful homes, and nicely tucked between East Hills, Downtown, Medical City (I really hate the term "Pill Hill"), and whatever you call the area around Franklin street.

We have no grocery store other than Clark's, which is about as much of a grocery store as a 7-11. We pretty much have nothing else in the way of retail other than Martha's Vineyard, so we pretty much have to go outside of the area for everything. I dont know if that hurts any efforts to attract people to the neighborhood, but having a real grocery store wouldn't hurt.

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The charter school on State St is closing down. Maybe someone will turn that into a market.

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The interesting thing about the lack of commercial in Heritage Hill is that I assume that is the way it always was in Heritage Hill. There are very few commercial buildings. State Street has some, and there are a few over by Martha's but other than that it is pretty absent of commercial.

I personally think Heritage Hill is great, though I wish Heritage Hill positioned itself a little better. I still think a lot of suburbanites think Heritage Hill is "scary". I'd also like to see more period lighting and buried power lines. It's a real gem that we should nurture.

Joe

I think it's almost perfect just the way it is. Great mix of incomes and backgrounds, wonderful homes, and nicely tucked between East Hills, Downtown, Medical City (I really hate the term "Pill Hill"), and whatever you call the area around Franklin street.

We have no grocery store other than Clark's, which is about as much of a grocery store as a 7-11. We pretty much have nothing else in the way of retail other than Martha's Vineyard, so we pretty much have to go outside of the area for everything. I dont know if that hurts any efforts to attract people to the neighborhood, but having a real grocery store wouldn't hurt.

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I loved living in Heritage Hill.

There are a lot more places to eat and shop in the district proper from when I lived there. It would have been great to have Art of the Table, Wealthy Street Bakery, That Pizza and Chinese joint, all with in walking distance of my place. While I was never a fan of Clarks, I thought it was a full service Grocery store? I thought I remember produce and meat? It would be nice if they cleaned it up and opened up the front with windows. I think they need new ownership.

I thought it was a great community to live in. Great neighbors, easy walk to downtown. You can't beat living in what is basically a living museum.

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I live on the Wealthy Street end of Heritage Hill and I am excited to see all the new construction happening on the street, but some of the retail spaces still need help (many are empty). I think that Wealthy Street Bakery is the real gem in the neighborhood. I wouldn't mind a pizza place, a grocery store (would love it if the cherry hill market was more like the Grand River Grocery in Ada (it has a starbucks, beer/wine, specialty and standard edibles, and some fancy deserts). All in all though I think that the mixture of rental and ownership int he area makes for a cool mix of people (though i wouldn't mind if the college girls who live above me went to bed earlier and screamed less.)

I would love to go take photos of every building that still needs some rehab on Wealthy street and start some discussions about them... should I do that?

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I live on the Wealthy Street end of Heritage Hill and I am excited to see all the new construction happening on the street, but some of the retail spaces still need help (many are empty). I think that Wealthy Street Bakery is the real gem in the neighborhood. I wouldn't mind a pizza place, a grocery store (would love it if the cherry hill market was more like the Grand River Grocery in Ada (it has a starbucks, beer/wine, specialty and standard edibles, and some fancy deserts). All in all though I think that the mixture of rental and ownership int he area makes for a cool mix of people (though i wouldn't mind if the college girls who live above me went to bed earlier and screamed less.)

I would love to go take photos of every building that still needs some rehab on Wealthy street and start some discussions about them... should I do that?

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But of course. We always like to give our opinions. :)

Joe

I live on the Wealthy Street end of Heritage Hill and I am excited to see all the new construction happening on the street, but some of the retail spaces still need help (many are empty). I think that Wealthy Street Bakery is the real gem in the neighborhood. I wouldn't mind a pizza place, a grocery store (would love it if the cherry hill market was more like the Grand River Grocery in Ada (it has a starbucks, beer/wine, specialty and standard edibles, and some fancy deserts). All in all though I think that the mixture of rental and ownership int he area makes for a cool mix of people (though i wouldn't mind if the college girls who live above me went to bed earlier and screamed less.)

I would love to go take photos of every building that still needs some rehab on Wealthy street and start some discussions about them... should I do that?

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I like the fact that it is an area in which there are all really nice houses, with some being single units owned by wealthier folks and some being rentals and lived in by college students or less wealthy folks. This is one of the few areas in the city (and surrounding area) where there is economic diversity living side by side. I would hate to see it all become one or the other. I have to agree with the other posts, that what it lacks is retail.

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Heritage Hill is a gem both for what it is and for how it came into being.

After the battle to save the old City Hall was lost, it would've been easy to throw in the towel and left 'progress' overrun our city. The establishment of Heritage Hill as a special district created an attitude that ran counter to the prevailing attitude of 1960s master planners and urban renewal advocates. It said this neighborhood is ours, it's special, and we want federal law to help us preserve it.

That attitude has since spread to other parts of the city, with our without the legal protection, and we're all better off for it.

Had Heritage Hill not been saved largely intact, and its fabric been ripped open for a mishmash of tear downs for 1970s-1980s era apartment complexes, we'd have a very different city today, with a much more fractured sense of community. We're very lucky to have Heritage Hill, IMO.

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One of my favorite things to do is park near College Ave. and walk down to school at CC. I love seeing not only the beauty of some of these house, but also the diversity. It's not like the "cookie cutter" houses that you will find in alot of neighborhoods. They all have their own personalities and I'm sure there is alot of history as well. I'm not sure how many are used as rental properties, but I do know some people (friends of my roomate) who do rent a part of a house down by Union and Lyon. There are some who don't respect the area since they are renting and don't own the house themselves. Plus, they don't come from GR and probably don't care about the history. BTW, this house was not in the best shape and I think it was to do with no pride of ownership.

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I could say all sorts of facts and figures about HH, but I guess the most impacting thing I could say is Heritage Hill IS the reason that I moved to Grand Rapids.

As for the fact and figures, yes it does have several very large buildings and a lot of rentals, but it also has some of the highest property values of any residential area within the city, and definitely the highest around downtown. It was also the Nations first Residential Historic District. Before HH, people would have specific buildings designated as Historic, but HH made it a whole new ball game.

But here is the sad thing; HH needs more families to live here. Young parents with kids, living in a house that they bought would help further diversify the neighborhood. There is already a slow trend forming on the south end of the Hill, where the houses are not too big, properties and prices and manageable, and neighborhood interaction is progressing.

I know that my Fianc

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I think as long as it attracts the current type of renters (mainly younger college kids) it works. These tenants add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and contrast well with the age of the home. Having lived there in the past, I have to say, it was a fun place to live as well as scenic. If I had the money to own a home there, I would in a heartbeat.

Great neighborhood, should be a standard for other neighborhoods and cities to follow.

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Heritage Hill is one of the main reasons GR is such an incredible city! While I've settled farther to the east now, Ill always remember quite fondly, my years living in the hill (and those late night walks to Martha's). I think GRdad came up with a great idea for a super market, in the space that the charter school occupied (maybe someone needs to pitch this idea to the Gietzen's that own Grand River Grocery). I took this little bit of info off the HH website...

Heritage Hill is one of the largest urban historic districts in the country. It was the first "neighborhood" of Grand Rapids and is adjacent to downtown. Its 1,300 homes date from 1848 and represent over 60 architectural styles. These were the homes of lumber barons, teachers, judges, and legislators who shaped our city

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Heritage Hill is definately a gem. I made sure to visit the neighborhood in my first Grand Rapids visit last summer and will have to this summer also. Incredible houses that seemed to be priced to low, they'd definately go for more here.

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I love the quiet of HH, yet right next to the bustle of Downtown. It's a beautiful neighbourhood and I loved walking through the area when I attended GRCC (I usually parked in the Belknapp area). I think its a great assett to the city and Downtown that HH has been preserved as it is.

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Technically, I'm in Cherry Hill - 3 houses east of the HH boundary at Union on Cherry. There is no place I'd rather live. The company I work for was just sold to an outfit in Boca Raton, FL. The first thing they did was ask if I'd be willing to relocate - I quickly said "No" and will be working from home for them - Miss Kitty will be very happy! They would have to double my salary in order to afford even a crappy studio apartment in a crappy complex.

The neighborhood is so cool, the people, the funky vibe, the architecture, the sense of history--I've traveled to every state in the union when I worked for that crazy CyberNet--there are certainly other cool parts of the country but there's just a feel about Grand Rapids that you don't get anywhere else. It's big enough to be a city but still has a small-town feel.

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I certainly find it an historic gem. Many of those old houses are stunning. I cringe when I see how some were converted into apartments, but that too has its benefits when you consider the diversity brought to the area.

From a purely historical perspective though, I wish more of those homes had not been gutted or renovated into apartments.

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I lived on HH at 11 Union for two years - - - I rave about the area to friends still today. The style of the houses, the carriage houses set behind, the atmosphere of the neighborhoods was right up my alley. I could walk to classes at Aquinas, get tipsy anywhere downtown or on Michigan (yeah Birch Lodge), or hang out with friends that rented in the area as well. I don't love the idea of so many rentals, but I am confident that before the time takes its inevitable toll on this beautiful area, the young professional associated with Health Hill and other downtown businesses can scoopup many of the houses and bring the Hill back around to the good old days. I have a couple of friends from Detroit (Birmingham) that are trying to get jobs over here so they can buy a house on the Hill and fix it up. That's great stuff

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Anyone interested in learning more about HH should visit their website at www.heritagehillweb.org

They have pictures of EVERY structure in Heritage Hill along with some additional info on some buildings. You can also find a walking tour guide, info and resources for historic renovation.

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The proposed development of the St. Mary's campus will also enhance that corner of the city and provide another attractive entrance into Heritage Hills. There are several Medical buildings being added to the campus and hopefully this will bring even more potential residents and users of the local retail, not to mention spurring new retail.

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