Brownfield authority gives Rockford a green light


(As seen on WZZM TV 13) A new near-downtown residential project on the city’s west side had its work plan, development contract and reimbursement agreement approved by the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority last week, and city commissioners will likely approve the project’s zoning change this week.

“I think this is a very important project for the west side,” said City Commissioner Walt Gutowski, also a member of the brownfield authority board.

Rockford Construction Co. has proposed putting up four multi-story residential buildings with a total of 18 market-rate apartments on a contaminated site at the southwest corner of Douglas and Seward avenues, just a block south of Bridge Street NW. The apartments total 15,000 square feet.

The development is designed to attract young urban professionals and college students, and will feature an outdoor garden, a storage area for bicycles, a community room, an outdoor patio lounge and storage units for tenants.

Integrated Architecture designed the project.

Two vacant and dilapidated buildings on the site — a former VFW hall and a garage — will be razed. The project will add new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and landscaping to the property, which contains heavy metals and semi-volatile organic compounds. About 1,600 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be removed and the sewer system may be upgraded.

SME did the environmental analysis. 

Rockford Construction is spending slightly more than $600,000 to remediate the site, an investment for which it will be reimbursed through tax-increment financing.

Rockford Construction, doing business as 600 Douglas LLC for the endeavor, bought the property from the Grand Voiture of Michigan last September and plans to invest $2.4 million into the project. The site has been vacant for about five years, after the VFW hall closed. It was home to a furniture company and a flypaper manufacturer until the mid-1930s.

The property is currently zoned for low-density residential, and Rockford Construction has requested a change to a planned redevelopment district. The city’s Planning Commission recommended city commissioners support the zoning change.

Rockford wants to begin construction sometime this summer and finish it by early next year. 

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