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joeDowntown

East Grand Rapids Re-Development

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If anyone has driven through EGR lately, they probably have seen the "Re-Ignite Gaslight" or "SaveEastGR" signs. They are proposing to redevelop an entire strip of its "main street". A lot of N.I.M.B.Y's (Not in My Backyard) don't want this, but it is a really excellent example of new urbanism design as well as revitalization of a struggling street (East Grand Rapids definitely isn't struggling, but Wealthy St. leaves something to be desired). I found an interesting pro-development website with renderings etc. Check it out at:

Re-Ignite Gaslight

Also, look for the Mutual Home Bank facade in image six, which used to be downtown until they started construction of the new art museum.

- Joe

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If anyone has driven through EGR lately, they probably have seen the "Re-Ignite Gaslight" or "SaveEastGR" signs. They are proposing to redevelop an entire strip of its "main street". A lot of N.I.M.B.Y's (Not in My Backyard) don't want this, but it is a really excellent example of new urbanism design as well as revitalization of a struggling street (East Grand Rapids definitely isn't struggling, but Wealthy St. leaves something to be desired). I found an interesting pro-development website with renderings etc. Check it out at:

Re-Ignite Gaslight

Also, look for the Mutual Home Bank facade in image six, which used to be downtown until they started construction of the new art museum.

- Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This will be a good test in regards to whether the area has turned the ideological corner. For far to long, Grand Rapids conservatism has simply preserved the status quo. East Grand Rapids is a microcosm of the areas conservatism.

I live in Minneapolis. I see first hand evidence of the vitality and amenities to an area born from development around a Lake. The Gas Light Village is in GR has tremendous potential to be a major amenity for people in the Grand Rapids Area. It would or should be comparable to Minneapolis

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Here is a Photo of Lake Calhoun in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. It has walking and bicycle paths surronding the lake. Nearly every Lake in the Twin Cities is surronded by walking and biking paths. Why not EGR? THe paths that EGR has for walking and biking blocks you from the view of the lake. It is a terrible design and lacks continuity.

2257.jpg

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Freddy,

I don't know if you've been by the park lately, but they have done a great job of opening it up. The park has a much more pedestrian feel.

My informal poll (very informal) of driving through EGR shows that the further you live from the project, the more support there is for the project. I personally think it will pass. $50 million in development plus plenty of new tax dollars for the coffers (EGR only experiences new growth when properties are split, it is completely land locked).

As with many things, I think it is much a do about nothing. Once the "behemoth" buildings are in place, people will like the scale and appreciate the fact that their property values have jumped.

I used to live in EGR and it is a very pedestrian friendly city, Gaslight Village needs an overhaul and I think there is enough "outside blood" to negate the NIMBY attitude. Unfortunately, they always yell louder ;)

- Joe

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Today is the days. Will the NIMBY's totally ruin a well designed $50 million dollar revitalization? We'll see after the results come in tonight!

Joe

EGR's choice: Up or down?

Monday, February 21, 2005

By Juanita Westaby

The Grand Rapids Press

EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- Will East Grand Rapids go high or low?

High-rise, that is. Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the future of a Jade Pig plan to develop a high-rise condominium and retail development on the former Jacobson's site.

In effect, East Grand Rapids residents will decide what kind of city they want.

It could have high-end shopping and restaurants rimming the base of luxury, lakeview condominiums. It also could have a sky filled with high-rise buildings. It all depends on your point of view.

Mayor Cindy Bartman is doing a lot of talking -- much to the dismay of opponents to Jade Pig Ventures' proposal. Bartman, who recorded a telephone pitch on behalf of Jade Pig that went to nearly every home last week, is unapologetic about her bias.

"The risk involved in turning down this proposal is so high to me," she said. "We risk our business district, we risk expanding our tax base, we risk having mediocre development. We risk someone coming back with a cheaper development. Is cheaper better?"

Smaller and shorter is better, said Penny Bennett, of SaveEastGR, which opposes the high-rises. Bennett is convinced Jade Pig finally will come back with an acceptable four-story plan if voters turn it down this time.

"This developer has $4 million invested," Bennett said. "If you hear that there is not another plan, it's a scare tactic."

Bennett said it's the community's job "to say no to these high-rise buildings and send a message to other developers" that the lake view is not for sale.

Jade Pig, and its ballot committee, Re-Ignite Gaslight, conducted a telephone poll in January to see what messages would most resonate with voters, Jade Pig Vice President Sheri Cuccarese said.

Cuccarese would not discuss the results of the polling, but Re-Ignite Gaslight has hit hard the message of increasing the tax base, particularly for the school district. School officials say, based on the $50 million property value of the finished development four years from now, the district would reap various direct millage revenues.

Jade Pig owners Brian De-Vries and Scott Wierda bristle at conjecture that they will not invest $50 million in the community, and that an equally profitable development can be made using shorter buildings. They steadfastly refuse to indicate what they will do if voters turn down their vision.

Legally, their options would be to submit a plan within current commercial zoning laws, come back with a substantially different project, or sell the property, city officials said.

They aren't interested in any of those options, they say.

"From day one, we've said we want to raise the bar," De-Vries said. "We're not interested in building inexpensive buildings. We're using natural materials -- Belgian block, brick, granite and wood. We're installing a snow-melt system, underground parking ... Being the lowest-cost provider is not what we're about."

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Today is the days. Will the NIMBY's totally ruin a well designed $50 million dollar revitalization? We'll see after the results come in tonight!

Joe

EGR's choice: Up or down?

Monday, February 21, 2005

By Juanita Westaby

The Grand Rapids Press

EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- Will East Grand Rapids go high or low?

High-rise, that is. Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the future of a Jade Pig plan to develop a high-rise condominium and retail development on the former Jacobson's site.

In effect, East Grand Rapids residents will decide what kind of city they want.

It could have high-end shopping and restaurants rimming the base of luxury, lakeview condominiums. It also could have a sky filled with high-rise buildings. It all depends on your point of view.

Mayor Cindy Bartman is doing a lot of talking -- much to the dismay of opponents to Jade Pig Ventures' proposal. Bartman, who recorded a telephone pitch on behalf of Jade Pig that went to nearly every home last week, is unapologetic about her bias.

"The risk involved in turning down this proposal is so high to me," she said. "We risk our business district, we risk expanding our tax base, we risk having mediocre development. We risk someone coming back with a cheaper development. Is cheaper better?"

Smaller and shorter is better, said Penny Bennett, of SaveEastGR, which opposes the high-rises. Bennett is convinced Jade Pig finally will come back with an acceptable four-story plan if voters turn it down this time.

"This developer has $4 million invested," Bennett said. "If you hear that there is not another plan, it's a scare tactic."

Bennett said it's the community's job "to say no to these high-rise buildings and send a message to other developers" that the lake view is not for sale.

Jade Pig, and its ballot committee, Re-Ignite Gaslight, conducted a telephone poll in January to see what messages would most resonate with voters, Jade Pig Vice President Sheri Cuccarese said.

Cuccarese would not discuss the results of the polling, but Re-Ignite Gaslight has hit hard the message of increasing the tax base, particularly for the school district. School officials say, based on the $50 million property value of the finished development four years from now, the district would reap various direct millage revenues.

Jade Pig owners Brian De-Vries and Scott Wierda bristle at conjecture that they will not invest $50 million in the community, and that an equally profitable development can be made using shorter buildings. They steadfastly refuse to indicate what they will do if voters turn down their vision.

Legally, their options would be to submit a plan within current commercial zoning laws, come back with a substantially different project, or sell the property, city officials said.

They aren't interested in any of those options, they say.

"From day one, we've said we want to raise the bar," De-Vries said. "We're not interested in building inexpensive buildings. We're using natural materials -- Belgian block, brick, granite and wood. We're installing a snow-melt system, underground parking ... Being the lowest-cost provider is not what we're about."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The last time I lived in GR, full time, was about 20 years ago. I go back about 4 or 5 times a year though. Based upon my experience and perception about the conservatism in the area.....I think the NIMBY'S will win, which likely means that the erea will lose its full potential.

I would certainly love to be dissapointed.

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Quality Urban Development - 1

NIMBY's - 0 :)

East Grand Rapids voters say yes to controversial development

(East Grand Rapids, February 22, 2005) Voters in East Grand Rapids gave a thumbs up tonight to a controversial development in the Gaslight Village.

By a vote of 2,603 to 2,055 voters put an end to a nearly two year debate about the future of the old Jacobson's site on Wealthy Street.

Jade Pig Ventures wants to put a $50 million complex on the site, complete with retail space, office space, and high rise condos.

Those opposed to the plan said the city would lose its small town charm and said traffic would be a nightmare. One big complaint was the size of the height of the buildings.

City leaders approved the project last year, but an opposition group, Save East GR, collected hundreds of signatures, enough to put the issue to a city-wide vote.

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Good news!  I always enjoy anti-NIMBY stories.  LOL.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is one time that I am glad to be wrong. This is truly a positive development. The whole Wealthy Street corridor will be ignited by this development. I have relatives who own some of the commercial buildings on Wealthy West of Fuller. I see those property values going up immediately. Coming from the Express Way, Wealthy Street Exit is the direct path to this big development and the traffic flow will make it a good location for businesses on the corridor. THe Street is already partly gentrified, with only a few "rough" sections remaining.

I think the next step is to make Reeds Lake much more pedestrian friendly, as well as, for roller bladers and bicycles. The recent changes may be better than it was...but compared to what exist in the Twin Cities and what the potential Reeds lake has....it leaves much to be desired.

If positive news like this keeps surfacing....I might have to move back to the area :blink:

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