GR town planning commission approves rezoning for the development of 42 housing units

GRAND RAPIDS – The city’s planning commission on Thursday approved rezoning that would facilitate the construction of 42 condominium lots as well as the construction of a four-story office building in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

The final site plan will go to the Planning Commission for approval, and the City of Grand Rapids Commission will vote on final project approval.

Non-profit real estate developer Dwelling place reduced its 47 condo units initially offered to 42 after neighborhood concerns about the density of the project, which would be located at 2080 Union Ave. SE. Condominium development is planned on a block of land adjacent to a Samaritas subdivision.

The resolution approved on Thursday also facilitates Bethany Christian Services Inc.the proposal to construct a four-story office building to expand its services on the same block just north of the proposed condominium project.

Many community members spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to criticize the proposed condominium development, echoing similar concerns that were expressed at a planning meeting on October 14. Public commentators said they were concerned about the increase in traffic and the lack of transparency in the planning process.

Some also questioned the community land trust model that Dwelling Place plans to use to maintain a level of affordability for tenants. Under the community land trust model, homeowners should get a mortgage of about 75% of the value of their home. The standard size of the house in the project would be around 1,100 square feet “with an adequate back yard,” according to planning documents.

Dwelling Place has primarily worked to provide affordable housing in the rental market, but market pressures have led the organization to seek more affordable homeownership options, said Jeremy DeRoo, CEO of Dwelling Place, during Thursday’s meeting.

The project aims to increase accessibility to homeownership for low- and middle-income households in Grand Rapids. Under a community land trust model, the owner still owns the house, but the land is owned by a trust, in this case Dwelling Place Regional Community Land Trust. If the owner chooses to sell their home, they will commit to doing so at a lower rate to ensure the home’s affordability in the future, DeRoo said.

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