GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids City Commission has approved purchase agreements for two parcels of land, including one that may be preserved as more natural green space.

In addition to the site for a new fire station on Kalamazoo Avenue, the city approved a $315,000 purchase for a wooded parcel of land on Bristol Avenue.

The undeveloped parcel, approximately 12 acres of land, could be preserved as green space — a rare find in the middle of a city — or used for future housing.

Jonathan Klooster, Grand Rapids’ assistant economic development director, testified during a committee meeting Tuesday morning that several private developers have looked at the property. However, none have followed through, likely because the layout of the land is a difficult fit.

“The topography of the site does create significant challenges. It is heavily wooded and has steep slopes,” Klooster said. “But the opportunity to acquire 12 acres of open space in the city is a relatively unique opportunity, which is why we are recommending this to you today.”

If the city decides to turn the property into housing, it would likely be “three or fewer residential lots,” matching the current “low-density residential zone district.” Regardless of how it is used, the city believes the property fits into its long-term plans.

An overhead view of 960 Bristol Ave NW in Grand Rapids. (Courtesy City of Grand Rapids)

“The ultimate use of the property will have to have a more thorough evaluation. We do believe there may be opportunities to create some lots on the frontage but there are also likely to be tradeoffs with other potential uses, as well,” Klooster said. “Until we control the property, we have nothing to talk about, so we are recommending proceeding in this fashion so that we can undertake a thorough evaluation and come back with a recommendation for the final use of this property.”

The purchase of 960 Bristol Avenue NW is set at $315,000, with total costs not to exceed $340,000. The deal would be covered by the city’s Property Management Fund.

As part of the deal, the city must include a $10,000 deposit and cover half of the property’s closing costs and the prorated 2023 property tax bill.

According to Zillow, the property was last purchased in 2017 for $175,000. It was listed for sale multiple times since 2020, at $549,900 in August of 2021. The latest listing price — $325,000 — was updated in January.