Partners plan 5.5-acre urban development


Officials share their plans for a mixed-use development by eight partners in Grand Rapids' Roosevelt Park neighborhood. Courtesy Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

A Grand Rapids neighborhood has a lot to be thankful for on Thursday.

The Roosevelt Park neighborhood is getting a new school, increased health care, affordable homes and rental options and more, thanks to a collaborative partnership by eight organizations.

On Monday, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Dwelling Place, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, Ferris State University, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association announced they will be collaborating on the Plaza Roosevelt development.

A 5.5-acre site on the east side of Grandville Avenue, between Graham on the north and Franklin on the south, will be transformed into a “unique mix of education, health care, affordable housing and more,” according to the organizations.

The project’s plans are in the initial stages.

However, the partners expect the two-block location will feature a number of elements: apartment units; single-family homes; increased health care services through Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Clinica Santa Maria; expanded educational opportunities with up to four new Great Start Readiness Program preschool classes; and the construction of a new high school facility to accommodate the expansion of Southwest Community Campus, a Spanish/English dual-immersion theme school; and shared community spaces for after-school programming for teens.

The first step in the project is to undergo a site planning process, which will include community engagement to determine the project design and details.

Roosevelt Park neighborhood residents have already weighed in on the project, and stakeholders will be invited to continue to be involved in the site planning and design processes.

A group of 10 to 12 residents will serve on a Resident Partner Committee to participate in planning for Plaza Roosevelt and ensure the residents’ voices are integrated into all levels of the project, including key decision making.

The site planning process is expected to conclude next spring.

John Helmholdt, GRPS executive director of communications and external affairs, said the new high school could be open as early as fall 2019 and will definitely be open by fall 2020.

Dennis Sturtevant, CEO of Dwelling Place, said his organization will be applying for low-income housing tax credits next October for affordable rental units.

Rev. Reggie Smith, board president of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, said Roosevelt Park is a “diverse community,” and the project reflects “our hopes and dreams in Roosevelt Park — to be a place where we can raise strong and healthy families.”

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