Rendering courtesy of Progressive AE Inc. Rendering courtesy of Progressive AE Inc.

GR Planning Commission OKs rezoning for 42-unit Dwelling Place development

BY Sunday, December 12, 2021 02:22pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The city’s Planning Commission on Thursday approved a rezoning that would facilitate the construction of 42 condominium lots as well as the construction of a four-story office building in the Garfield Park Neighborhood. 

The final site plan will come back to the Planning Commission for approval, and the Grand Rapids City Commision will vote on final approval for the projects.

Nonprofit housing developer Dwelling Place decreased its originally proposed 47 condo units to 42 after neighborhood concerns about the density of the project, which would be located at 2080 Union Ave. SE. The condominium development is planned on a block of land adjacent to a Samaritas housing development. 

The resolution approved Thursday also facilitates Bethany Christian Services Inc.’s proposal to construct a four-story office building to expand its services on the same block just north of the proposed condo project.

Many community members spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to criticize the proposed condominium development, echoing similar concerns that were voiced during an Oct. 14 planning meeting. Public commenters said they were worried about increased traffic and a lack of transparency in the planning process. 

Some also questioned the community land trust model that Dwelling Place plans to use to maintain a level of affordability for tenants. Under the community land trust model, homeowners would be expected to secure a mortgage for about 75 percent of their home’s value. The standard home size in the project would be about 1,100 square feet “with a sufficient rear yard,” according to planning documents. 

Dwelling Place has primarily worked to provide affordable housing in the rental market, but market pressures have led the organization to pursue more affordable home ownership options, Dwelling Place CEO Jeremy DeRoo said during Thursday’s meeting. 

The project aims to increase homeownership accessibility for lower- and middle-income households in Grand Rapids. Through a community land trust model, the homeowner still owns the home, but the land is owned by a trust, in this case Dwelling Place Regional Community Land Trust. If the homeowner opts to sell their unit, they agree to do so at a lower rate to ensure the affordability of the home in the future, DeRoo said.

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