Neighbors are concerned a $30-million parking project at Blodgett Hospital will infringe on the area’s historical character. Courtesy Spectrum Health
The plan by Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital to build two parking garages worth $30 million has been approved by the East Grand Rapids City Commission.
After a 4.5-hour meeting yesterday, the commission approved the project and its variances, said Karen Brower, city clerk.
The plan is to build two parking ramps, one on the north end of the property and one on the south end, with the same number of spaces as its crumbling 45-year-old underground structure.
The hospital is located at 1840 Wealthy St. SE.
The two variances approved include allowing surface parking within the setback along Sherman Street SE, as well as more building coverage.
A group of East Grand Rapids residents, which formed a nonprofit called OurEGR, opposed the project. Members said the tall concrete structures, particularly the south one that would sit on Plymouth Avenue SE, would compromise the historical area’s character and devalue the neighborhood.
The group made several proposals to the hospital, including moving the structures completely underground.
Spectrum Health made several changes, but the south structure will still measure just over 20-feet high at its highest point.
The East Grand Rapids Planning Commission approved the project with conditions on April 24. The commission tabled a vote at its March 20 meeting on Spectrum's plan, giving the health system time to consider the design presented by OurEGR.
Since then, Spectrum Health has also changed its plan to enhance landscaping.
“We disagree with the decision, and we’re disappointed with it,” said Jim Bruinsma of the Grand Rapids-based law firm McShane & Bowie, which is representing the group.
Bruinsma said OurEGR is deciding whether to continue pursuing its cause.