Silver Line’s future could help create Division corridor opportunities

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you build it, they will come: That was the idea behind the Rapid’s Silver Line when it started running in 2014.

It would bring more riders to the Rapid bus service and more economic development to the South Division corridor that runs through Grand Rapids and two suburbs.

“I came here to try to make the best business in this corridor,” Angelica Velazquez said.

Valazquez’s Casa de la Cabijas has been part of the area since 2006, supplying the neighborhood with various household and clothing items. In 2017, she moved the store to its current location at Division Avenue and Alger Street.

But it’s more than a store; it’s a part of the community. So when it comes to talk of economic revitalization connected to the Silver Line, Velazquez wants to make sure progress doesn’t mean outsiders coming in and telling the community what they need.

“Everybody here, they know exactly what this corridor needs,” Velazquez said. “We organize for the community. We are part of the community. Together, we can make a lot of beautiful things for the community.”

On Thursday, Division United, which is working with the cities of Grand Rapids, Wyoming and Kentwood and the Rapid on future development along the Silver Line, held two virtual town hall meetings to discuss the future of the corridor.

“What gets done within the public rights of way in many ways will determine the success of other elements, like economic development,” Jeromie Winsor, a consultant with the firm AECOM, said.

Being considered is land use, zoning and creating affordable housing options.

The town halls also included talk about community connectors — area residents like Velazquez who are taking part in the process. Velazquez said she confident their voices will be heard because she’s confident of the communities’ willingness to get involved.

“Yes, I have worried,” Velazquez said. “But I have hope.”

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