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Belknap Neighborhood continues to feel the effects of gentrification

January 29, 2019

The Belknap neighborhood is no stranger to outside interests with money coming into that northeast side area and wanting to change the makeup of that community.

In the 1990s, there was a major push on the part of Spectrum Health to transform the area to what is now know as the Medical Mile. 

Just a few years ago, when GVSU announced it wanted to expand their presence near their Michigan Street facility, the most recent wave of gentrification hit the area.

In the Spring of 2016, the Grand Rapids City Commission approved a major condo project, in what was to be known as the Coit Square Project. The site If the River Swells, provided an important analysis of the Coit Square Project, primarily through a class lens. 

Then in the Fall of 2016, the physical changes to the neighborhood could be seen with the demolition of some 20 homes in order to make way for the new GVSU building. We took pictures of the demolition at the time and raised questions about the demolition as a form of displacement

The neighborhood continues to be a target for gentrification, with the most recent example being a project that would demolish nearly another dozen homes. According to Grand Rapids Planning Commission documents from January 10, 2019, the east side of Coit NE, between Fairbanks and Trowbridge, would be leveled for a new housing development project (highlighted here in blue).

This new project is being proposed by RJM Properties, which had begun a project in 2014 known as the Clancy Street Lofts and is now billed as the “Gateway to Belknap Apartments. These apartments run between $1,000 – $2,500 a month. 

The new RJM Properties project would include 43 – 50 housing units for sale, as is indicated in the Planning Commission document here:

The units will cost $169,900 – $329,900 for 1 and 2 bedroom units; the 3 bedroom units will have a base price of $499,900. So these new units will run between $175,000 to more than a half a million, which clearly means that there target demographic for these housing units as the professional and business class. However, in the GR Planning Commission documents it does state that RJM Properties, “is actively working to devise a plan that would help make it possible for us to allocate 2 units for affordable low-income ownerships.”

While some will applaud this new project as further evidence that Grand Rapids is a thriving city, it is for this writer a clear indication that Grand Rapids continues to be a city that celebrates wealth at the expense of poor and working class residents.

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