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Is the DeVos family getting involved in another land deal in Grand Rapids, this time in the 2nd Ward?

November 17, 2022

(Updated version of this story, with new information added on November 23rd from someone who contacted GRIID.)

As readers on this blog will know, anytime the DeVos family gets involved in purchasing property, especially for future housing projects, the public should be very concerned about such projects.

In 2017, when the DeVos/Rockford Construction Company partnership spent millions to buy up several dozen properties in the Third Ward, specifically the Boston Square Neighborhood. All of this happened without resident knowledge. The DeVos/Rockford Construction land grab in the Third Ward was then followed by the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation’s creation of AmplifyGR, which was charged with implementing DeVos-family values, such as creating entrepreneurs, educational opportunities outside of the Public School system and taking advantage of public money to achieve said goals. You can read all of the GRIID postings on the DeVos/Rockford Construction/AmplifyGR project at this link https://griid.org/tag/amplifygr/. 

We recently learned of a land purchase by the DeVos family in the Second Ward, just east of the Kent Country Club on Diamond and Country Club Dr. NE. MiBiz posted an article on November 8th, which read in part:

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy recently awarded a total of $1.73 million in brownfield grants for three redevelopments on contaminated properties in West Michigan.

The brownfield grants include $1 million for the Boston Square Together project in Grand Rapids, $430,000 for a multi-building apartment project in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood, and $300,000 for a condominium development at 815 Verhoeks St. in Grand Haven. 

The state agency awarded the grants to the city of Grand Rapids’ Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and its Economic Development Corp. as well as the Grand Haven Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. The local entities plan to allocate the funds to the three redevelopment projects.

The grants will fund demolition, environmental investigations, disposal of contaminated soil and the installation of barriers and ventilation systems beneath future buildings to prevent potential exposure to residual contamination.

Jacey Shachter, president of Metric Structures LLC and developer of the Country Club Place project in the Creston neighborhood, said the $430,000 in brownfield funding is an important step for the project. The $8 million project would contain two apartment buildings with multiple levels, but a unit count is still undetermined, Shachter said.

“We like to do infill community development,” Shachter told MiBiz. “This is right in the Creston neighborhood, it’s been vacant for a long time and we like a good puzzle to figure out how we can add value and activate some of these infill sites.”

The development would be located on two parcels at 1603 Diamond Ave. NE and 1600 Country Club Drive NE. The plan calls for demolishing a 1,189-square-foot existing building on the site, allowing for the removal of contaminated soils underneath.

Affiliates of RDV Corp., the family office for the DeVos family, purchased both properties for $270,000 in June 2021, according to property records. Artesian Group LLC, registered to Angel Gonzalez, is the former property owner.

“The City of Grand Rapids Economic Development Corporation is grateful to EGLE for their investment in the cleanup efforts of this project,” Jonathan Klooster, executive director of the Grand Rapids Economic Development Corp., said in a statement. “Our partnership continues to make urban infill projects like this financially feasible and helps to incrementally increase housing supply in our community.”

Shachter hopes to break ground on the project in spring of 2023. Grand Rapids-based MEM Designs LLC serves as the project designer.

In looking at who actually purchased the land, which the MiBiz article refers to as, “Affiliates of RDV Corp., the family office for the DeVos family, we were able to find this information from this City of Grand Rapids link https://bsaonline.com/?uid=115. If you put in 1603 Diamond Ave. NE, it says that the owner of the property is 1600 COUNTRY CLUB LLC, which is located at 4940 Cascade Rd SE, Suite 220, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Guess what entity has an office at 940 Cascade Rd SE, CDV5 Property Management, which is run by Cheri DeVos.

People with wealth and those involved in land grabs, often create LLCs to hide their identity. CDV5 Property Management purchased the property in June of 2021. If you enter 1600 Country Club Drive NE, you get the same information, that it was purchased by 1600 Country Club LLC, which is Cheri DeVos’ property management company. In addition, it is important to note that Jacey Shachter, who is the president of Metric Structures LLC (the developer for the housing project mentioned in the MiBiz article), is the daughter of Steve Ehmann, the husband of Cheri DeVos and co-owner of CDV5 Property Management. As is the case with many DeVos family companies and projects, they often contract with other family members, which keeps the wealth in house. 

The 1603 Diamond NE property has an old commercial building on the site, but the land listed as 1600 Country Club Drive NE is a vacant lot. 

Lastly, it is important to note that the property currently owned by the DeVos family is a beneficiary of the brownfield development funds, which is public money, for environmental clean up for the land they now own. You can also bet that when this land is developed, it will also likely submit a request to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for more public funds to develop the property. Now, we don’t know if the DeVos family when end up owning the new housing project, but if they do, they will double dip for public subsidies, while profiting from either the management of the developed property or the sale of it after the development is complete. Isn’t Capitalism wonderful……..at least for the rich.

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