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Rockford Construction has been working on the Southtown Development Project since at least 2014

June 26, 2017

In our ongoing coverage of DeVos-led AmplifyGR group and their partner, Rockford Construction, we want to continue to ask relevant questions and raise the level of awareness about those who are part of the local power structure are planning to do in neighborhoods across the city.

In our original story, we looked at what the AmplifyGR/Rockford Construction efforts were proposing in the Southtown area of Grand Rapids. We reported that over the past 6 months AmplifyGR and Rockford Construction have been meeting with city planners and people who make up part of the Southtown Corridor Improvement District committee.

In Part II of this series, we looked at the number of plots that Rockford Construction has already purchased in both the Boston Square Area and the Cottage Grove area. We made the point in this post that AmplifyGR is really a project that amplifies the voices of developers and investors who have already created an unequal power dynamic by virtue of how much land they control in the target areas.

In our third article on AmplifyGR, we wanted to alert people to a meeting that AmplifyGR was hosting on June 29, shed some light on the process and provide some information on the entity that is financing AmplifyGR – the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation. 

In today’s post we continue to want to raise relevant questions about the AmplifyGR project.

Last year, we ran a story about a Rockford Construction development plan that had created some controversy at the time, because they already had a proposed plan before even discussing the development idea with people who actually live in the target neighborhood. The development project became public when someone from Linc posted information on Facebook and in their online news section. The online news piece is entitled, Rockford Construction’s “Hushed” Plan for Southeast Redevelopment Brought to Light 

The “Hushed Plan” that Linc is talking about is a 43-page document, ironically titled, Complete Neighborhood. We revisited that document, in light of the recent revelations that Rockford Construction was working with AmplifyGR. AmplifyGR has stated that their proposal for the Boston Square area is based on the Purpose Built Communities model. In re-reading the Rockford Construction document, they mention that they had attended a Purpose Built conference and were working with consultants from that organization. On pages 6 – 7 of the Rockford Construction document it states:

Purpose Built Communities, led by Greg Giornelli, has provided support to the Grand Rapids team in a number of ways:

Strategic Planning Session – Greg Giornelli visited Grand Rapids to review the fundamentals of the Purpose Built Model and to assist in goal-setting. While the pillars of Purpose Built are foundational for every member community, each neighborhood bring its own unique challenges, and each community must craft its own approach to solving problems.

Members of the Grand Rapids team attended the Purpose Built Conference in September, 2014. Other Purpose Built Members were in attendance and topics ranged from neighborhood resident engagement to early childhood brain development. Of note was the wide variety in both the physical characteristics of each neighborhood and the organizational approach to implementing strategies.

So, it seems clear that Rockford Construction has been working on a plan to re-develop part of Southtown since 2014, based on their own report comments about meeting with folks from Purpose Built Communities. Three years later, they appear to be ready to implement such a plan, even before those who live in the target area even know what the hell is going on.

We also looked closer at the land purchases that Rockford Construction has been making in the Southtown area, particularly the Boston Square neighborhood and the Cottage Grove area. Below you can see which parcels they have purchased, for how much and in what year.

All of the property purchases combined is an estimated $10 million that Rockford Construction has spent on the land in the two areas of Southtown. This is an incredible amount of money and one wonders if the company has that kind of money to spend or if they have other financial backers?

One thing that isn’t clear from the 2015 Rockford Construction document is who will ultimately maintain control over all this property in the Southtown area, not how much the company stands to profit off of such a plan. The company clearly is motivated by profits, so it will be interesting to hear what their CEO has to say about this at the public meeting on June 29.

The report does provide a Mission Statement, which is worth reprinting here:

What the mission statement says to this writer is that this is all just another neoliberal capitalist scheme that will make money off of poverty, while attempting to present the proposed development and Rockford Construction as Saviors of the neighborhood.

What if instead, people were to make a counter proposal back to Rockford Construction and AmplifyGR. The community proposal could go something like this: How about all the land you have purchased, and the additional money that investors are willing to throw at this project, were given to those who live in the community to be put into a Community Land Trust (CLT). This CLT would be completely under the control of those who lived in the neighborhood, could provide tremendous financial opportunities for home owners and tenants in the area and could lead to community based ideas for how best to move forward. If Rockford Construction and the DeVos-created AmplifyGR really wanted these neighborhoods to truly prosper, then they wouldn’t have a problem transferring all those assets over the the people who live there.



  1. AmplifyGR meeting received a lot of push-back from the community on plans to re-develop parts of southeast Grand Rapids | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  2. The Best of GRIID 2017: Exposing systems of power and reporting on movements of resistance | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  3. Grand Rapids Power Structure: Part III | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  4. The Acton Institute invites AmplifyGR to talk about what they are doing in Grand Rapids and there is no mention of who created the non-profit | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  5. A Public Hearing is scheduled for January 9 at the City Planning Commission for the DeVos created and financed AmplifyGR proposed development project | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  6. AmplifyGR wants to use public money on property demolition for a new company that they are unwilling to even disclose the name of | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  7. Rockford Construction claims to curate and nurture community: We call Bullshit! | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  8. AmplifyGR project for 1601 Madison SE still has yet to name the business involved in this project, even though they are asking for public funds | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  9. The Devil is in the Details: The Business of Grand Rapids is Business and Business Development……as long as the public pays for it | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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