Kim Revisits an affordable housing development featured in
Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing
By KIM VERMEER
How heartwarming it was to revisit Plaza Roosevelt on a recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan! My co-author, Walker Wells, and I featured one of the first Habitat for Humanity Kent County (Habitat Kent) homes at Plaza Roosevelt as a case study in Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing, Revised Edition. We featured this development because of the way Habitat Kent used green strategies to transform the community by providing sustainable, affordable homes for first-time home buyers, and their commitment to LEED certify every home.
I first visited in June 2019 to do research for the book, and in the time since, so much progress has been made! Beverly Thiel, Habitat Kent Executive Director, and Ivor Thomas, Director of Community Development, graciously met me at the site this fall to walk around so I could see for myself all of the exciting new changes.
Kim at the Plaza Roosevelt site visit with Beverly Thiel and Ivor Thomas from Habitat Kent
The Habitat Kent homes are part of a larger multi-block transformation that is renewing the Roosevelt Park neighborhood in southwest Grand Rapids. The entire redevelopment will be LEED for Neighborhood Development-certified.
Development plan for Plaza Roosevelt
COVID-19 paused construction for a few months this past spring but now the pace has picked up. The new bi-lingual (Spanish/English) high school—an important neighborhood priority in the redevelopment plan—is complete and ready for its first class of students. The local bi-lingual K-8 school will feed students into the new high school and the two schools together now will offer a K – 12 pathway for bilingual students in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Two views of the new bi-lingual high school
Dwelling Place Inc., another strong Grand-Rapids-based affordable housing developer, is nearing completion of two new apartment buildings on the campus, with a total of 45 units of affordable housing. One of the buildings will have ground level retail. And the rest of the Habitat homes will be ready for families to move in before the holidays.
Dwelling Place’s two apartment buildings under construction
It has taken a village to build this vision! In addition to Habitat Kent and Dwelling Place, the visionary team includes the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, Members of the former Neighborhood Partner Committee, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Ferris State University and Mercy Health.
Beverly Thiel with the sign crediting the Plaza Roosevelt Partners and project funders
Congratulations to all of the Plaza Roosevelt development partners for your relentless effort to bring this project to completion! And to the soon-to-be-new residents: Welcome Home!