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Celebrating Development, Celebrating Gentrification: 2017 Projects in Grand Rapids

January 2, 2017


It is hard to go a week in Grand Rapids without one of the news sources celebrating the latest development project around town. The news media are rushing to praise whatever new project that is being proposed, so long as it means more growth.

One recent example is a posting on the site GRNOW.COM, which ran a headline on December 27 that read, The Most Anticipated Projects of 2017

The piece in GRNOW is not so much a news piece as it is a listing of the development projects expected to come to fruition in 2017. Besides the cheerleading narrative for each project, the article does begin by saying:

After years of planning, Grand Rapids city leaders and developers are gearing up for a big year in Grand Rapids, probably the biggest boom in the city in 10 years; maybe ever. Here are some of the projects that we’ve been keeping an eye on, and what we might expect to see this year.benson-grand

The list of development/gentrification projects cited in the GRNOW article is fairly long and each of the projects comes with a shiny picture, usually a rendering of what each of the completed projects will look like. We have included our own images that paint a different picture of what these projects really mean. Our images make the case that these projects:

  • mostly private projects, use public money,
  • make available market rate housing 98% of the time,
  • displace working class families,
  • promote institutionalized racism
  • cater to the professional class and
  • promote tourism
  • while thousands struggle with povertyworking-class-families

Here is the list of expected 2017 development/gentrification projects:

  • the downtown Celebration Cinema, that will include parking, a hotel and market rate housing.
  • the Rockford Construction Bridge/Stocking project, which will include a Meijer store and mostly market rate housing, along with the new WMCAT headquarters. 
  • the new MSU Research facility on Michigan street.
  • the new GVSU Health Science facility in the Belknap neighborhood, where numerous houses were torn down last year.
  • the Switch Communications facility in the old Steelcase Pyramid.
  • Warner Tower on Ionia and Ottawa.ionia-project
  • the new hotel on Fulton and Ionia.
  • the new BOB Concert venue.
  • the new Embassy Suites/Hilton Garden Hotel on Monroe.
  • the new Hotel at 50 Monroe.
  • Lyon Square and Riverfront makeovers.
  • the 601 Seward/Lake Michigan Dr. apartments
  • Diamond Place
  • Renovation of the Kingsley Building
  • Market rate housing between Benson and Grand off of Michigan 
  • New Wealthy Street market rate housing
  • Founders Brewery expansion.
  • and at least 11 more breweries expected to be open in 2017 – because we can never have too many places to drink alcohol.

The GRNOW article ends with talk of more projects, along with an assumption that “most Grand Rapidians will be satisfied with all these projects.rockford

“That would keep most Grand Rapidians satisfied for a while, but we hear there may be other news to bring you this year, including another new hotel and conference center downtown, exciting changes coming to Calder Plaza, and big changes coming to Woodland Mall.”

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