GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new affordable housing apartment building has opened in Grand Rapids’ Belknap neighborhood.

Residents at Union Suites at Coit started moving in last week. Project leaders celebrated the building’s opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.

“It’s certainly been a labor of love and (I) couldn’t be more proud of the product that we’ve put together here,” principal owner Tom Ralston told News 8.

Union Suites at Coit. (Sept. 12, 2023)
Union Suites at Coit. (Sept. 12, 2023)

The brick-face building is across the street from the Coit Creative Arts Academy. It includes multiple layouts among the 52 housing units and has a parking lot for residents underneath the building.

Ralston said the project’s location, 608 Coit Avenue near Trowbridge Street, is perfect for an affordable housing complex as it’s in a walkable and diverse neighborhood near several resources.

Rental rates will be set by resident’s income, which must be 80% or less of the county’s median income, according to Orion Construction, the firm that built the development.

The project opens as Grand Rapids and Kent County face a housing crisis. Kent County has a need for around 35,000 units by 2027, according to a housing report from Housing Next.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Union Suites at Coit. (Sept. 12, 2023)
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Union Suites at Coit. (Sept. 12, 2023)

“We’re an amazing city … and we’re a growing city,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “With that also brings challenges, and one of the most significant challenges that we’re facing is housing and affordable housing.”

Brad Walsh, the president of Orion Construction, said his organization is working with its partners to help bring more housing to the area.

“Housing in general is a very great need,” he told News 8. “Every project that we do is just a small fraction of the number of units that are needed in Grand Rapids. And so every opportunity that comes in, we take serious and hope we can continue to be a part of Grand Rapids and it’s changing housing environment.”

  • Union Suites at Coit. (Sept. 12, 2023)
  • Union Suites at Coit. (Sept. 12, 2023)

The project worked in partnership with Dwelling Place, a housing development and management nonprofit. It’s CEO, Jeremy DeRoo, said people in Grand Rapids and throughout West Michigan are struggling to find places to stay.

He said stable housing for residents is “necessary to allow people to thrive.”

“That’s really what this project is about,” DeRoo said during the ceremony. “It’s about providing a chance for residents of Grand Rapids — people who have been part of this city for a long time, people who have been part of our community for a long time — to have a place to set down their roots, to know that they can continue to thrive, to know they continue to have a place to live amongst friends, amongst neighbors, amongst family and community.

“… The work that so many people have come to do, that have allowed this building to get built, is really that first step of setting a foundation for a community to come together and stay together, to have the economic diversity it takes for a community to thrive and for a city to thrive,” he added.