GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several organizations in Grand Rapids are asking for community input this week on a revitalization project for a Southeast-side neighborhood. 

The project is called Boston Square Together. It’s been in the works for the last three years. People in the Oakdale/Boston Square neighborhood have been working with Amplify GR, The Boston Square Neighborhood Association, Oakdale Neighbors and the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative to redesign a stretch of Kalamazoo Avenue between Ramona and Adams streets.

“Some of the things (residents have) been asking for include a bank, access to fresh fruits, meats and vegetables at an affordable price, access to increased health services and mental health services and then better, increased early childhood education for Black and brown babies,” said Latesha Lipscomb, who serves as the director of engagement and relationships at Amplify GR. 

Lipscomb said there are some renderings but they are preliminary and can still change as the project remains in the planning stages. One of the proposals is to take the old site of The Revolution Church at the corner of Ramona Street and Kalamazoo Avenue and transform it into office space, a medical clinic and a multipurpose room.

There’s also talks about the addition of a housing development, a grocery store and an early childhood education center. 

While the project does not have a price tag yet, it’s set to be funded by public and private dollars.

“This hub that’s going up is going to be that kind of tying piece that brings the neighborhood, the developers, the city, the residents all together. We’re hoping that this hub is kind of like that city center for us,” said Boston Square Neighborhood Association Board Member Kimberley Williams. “We want it to be developed intentionally to say we’re not trying to displace; we’re trying to embrace.” 

A preliminary site plan of the Boston Square Together project. (Courtesy Amplify GR)

Community members are asked to attend an open house on Wednesday at the old Revolution Church building where groups that have been working on the project will unveil the renderings for potential plans. The event is free and will feature local food trucks and a photobooth. There will also be a DJ. 

At the open house, neighbors will have a chance to vote on the plans they hope to see move forward. Amplify GR said votes from residents who live in the Boston Square/Oakdale neighborhood will hold more weight.

“We’re a part of Grand Rapids as well so it’s important to invest in this neighborhood so we can be on the same equal plain as the first and second ward and be able to show that the residents are valued,” said Oakdale Neighbors Executive Director Kenneth Hoskins.

Hoskins has lived in this neighborhood for decades and said the entire city will benefit from the development.

“As you build up these communities, whether they’ve been neglected or not, when you build those up, so goes the value of the whole city,” said Hoskins.

The open house will go from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. More event details can be found on the Boston Square website.

Pending Permits and an approved design, construction is planned for fall 2022. Those in charge of the project say they hope to have at least one portion of the project completed by next year but the development will continue over the next several years.