GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The need for affordable housing in Grand Rapids remains high, and a developer went in front of the city planning commission on Thursday with a proposal to help fill the need.
But the proposed affordable housing complex in Grand Rapids’ Belknap Lookout neighborhood won’t be built anytime soon.
Thursday afternoon, the city planning commission tabled a rezoning request to help build a three-story 52-unit apartment building in the 600 Block of Coit Avenue NE.
The income-restricted development would be next to Union Suites on Coit Avenue, a different project already under construction by the same developer, Union Suites LLC.
It would be reserved for people earning between 30% and 80% of Kent County’s area median income.
Parking would also be free for residents in the building, Grand Rapids real estate agent Thomas Ralston, who is helping lead the effort, said.
“The city calls for affordable housing,” Ralston said. “So many of the documents that have been generated speak to the need.”
The decision to expand came as more land became available.
“This project is one that is serendipitous,” Ralston said. “It was not something that we planned when we acquired the site. It truly is unique in that we are able to have this parking podium and offer the off-street parking in an area that is walkable.”
“It’s a pretty unique opportunity for the affordable housing in our community,” Ralston added.
Multiple nearby residents spoke out against the idea. Some claimed they didn’t even hear about the developer’s plans until a week ago. Others voiced concerns about the complex decreasing the amount of street parking and it changing the character of a neighborhood.
One resident, who has a single-family home right on the street, said the complex would hurt her well-being.
“They would corner me in here,” she said. “Knowing fair well it’s a single-family home, what do they expect from the next family that would move in here? Or who would want to? I moved in, you have this view of the park, and you don’t really expect them to overtake you with multiple high-density apartments.”
“I’m not against the complex,” she went on to say. “I’m very much in support of this type of housing, just specifically not this because it’s going to severely affect my well-being, my feeling of safety.”
City planning commissioners ultimately tabled the proposal, saying there needs to be changes to the site plan and the design of the building. They also agreed that developers should engage more with the neighbors to address their concerns.
But pointing out the city’s need for affordable housing, they didn’t want to reject the idea outright. They encouraged developers to adjust their plan and approach and then reapply in several months.