GR eyes displaced housing proposal


Grand Rapids currently is mapping out a proposal to compensate households threatened to be displaced by new developments.

The provision aims to aid residents who are at risk of having their homes demolished by new construction projects. First Ward Commissioner Kurt Reppart said the proposal would only apply to new developments wishing to utilize city incentives, like brownfield reimbursements.

While not final, the proposed reimbursement for displaced households would be about $3,200 to pay for moving expenses and two months rent. Reppart said the dollar amount is based on research conducted by the city’s economic development department.

Jonathan Klooster, Grand Rapids economic development coordinator, said the reimbursement is tied to cost of living adjustments, so the amount would change over time.

Under the current proposal, reimbursement would come as a required deposit on the developer’s end.

Through the review process, the proposal hasn’t yet gotten enough traction to come before the city commission for a final vote, Reppart said.

“I’ve heard about it at least three times,” Reppart said. “They (economic development) gather information each time to bring back to us. There’s not a whole lot more that we need before we bring it up again.”

There currently is no set timeline for when this proposal, in any form, would come into effect. The economic development department still is working out finer details like who the beneficiary would be in a unit with multiple households.

Klooster said the history of the proposal stems from a development several years ago to build up to 39 condos in the Belknap neighborhood.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission, in early 2016, approved the proposed condo project, dubbed Coit Square, according to an earlier Business Journal report. The developer, Artisan Group, seeks to demolish 11 existing houses to make room for the project, which would sit on 608 Coit Ave. NE, 644 Coit Ave. NE and 210 Fairbanks St. NE.

The development would be made of 11 buildings, less than 2½ stories tall, the report further said. Prices would range from $149,900 to $249,900 for two-bedroom condos and $289,900 for the few three-bedroom condos.

Klooster said Artisan Group previously sought reimbursement from the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for eligible activities associated with the project.

“This is something, obviously, we have been faced with at this point, and if we don’t consider how to address it, we will come up with the same situation of not having a good process in place,” Klooster said.

Klooster and Reppart said while the city is fairly built-out, there still is opportunity for new development that will not displace residents, although the availability of vacant or underutilized land is shrinking.

“I don’t foresee over the next couple of years that every project will be subject to this,” Klooster said. “There’s still land to be developed. But as more people come to recognize the value of Grand Rapids, this may come up more often.”

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