Inside the plans for Grand Rapids’ Plaza Roosevelt


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A neighborhood that for decades has been the center of the city’s Hispanic population is about to get new life and it will include a new $20 million school.

Monday morning, eight groups unveiled their plans for the Plaza Roosevelt development, a two-block area at the northeast corner of Grandville Avenue and Franklin Street SW.

The 5.5 acre project began in 2013 when Habitat for Humanity of Kent County began acquiring the land with a plan for a neighborhood-driven revitalization. Records show Habitat paid more than $730,000 for 13 lots. Habitat officials say they bought it with money from foundations.

The plan is to build new, affordable homes to sell and apartments to rent, and to expand health services through Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Clinica Santa Maria.

Grand Rapids Public Schools is dedicating $20 million toward a new Spanish-English dual immersion high school, along with preschool classes and after-school programs.

“Part of the desire to have a high school built on the property is to create an opportunity for residents of the neighborhood to go to a neighborhood school,” said Habitat for Humanity Executive Director BriAnne McKee.

The funding will come from a $20 million bond approved by voters last year.

School officials say the new Southwest Community Campus High School fits with their plans for smaller, theme-based schools. The district already operates a pre-K through 8th-grade school, Southwest Community Campus, nearby.

GRPS spokesman John Helmholdt said that school has a waiting list of nearly 200 students.

“There’s high demand, high growth in the southwest side of town here,” he said. “They want their own high school.  Their neighborhood high school is over the river and through the woods and a 45-minute bus ride to Union High School.”

Helmholdt said the new high school could open as soon as Fall 2019, possibly down the hill from the Cook Arts Center.

“Here, the students can have a small neighborhood high school that has that high-quality theme, that Spanish-English immersion theme that we’ve heard that the neighbors and the kids want,” he said.

The project partners include Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Dwelling Place, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, Ferris State University, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, and Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association.

The groups working on the site plan say they will tap the Roosevelt Park neighborhood for ideas and designs and create a development that benefits the community.

About a dozen residents will also serve on a committee that will also ensure the community’s voice is heard throughout the process.

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