GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new apartment development planned for Grand Rapids’ Heritage Hill neighborhood would help fill the need for housing in and near the city’s downtown — but it’s also causing concern for some neighbors.
The complex at the corner of State Street and Madison Avenue SE would be a first of its kind for Grand Rapids, featuring 71 one- and two-person apartments called micro units.
“A micro unit is a unit that has less than 350 square feet, so these are small units,” Grand Rapids Planning Director Suzanne Schulz explained.
The micro unit concept fits into the city’s larger scheme of creating more density in neighborhoods where people live, work, shop and get around, preferably by foot and pedal power and mass transit.
But residents like Juan Teran, who lives across the street from the development site, says he is concerned about the effect density will have on the area.
“Somebody needs to say, ‘We’re going to build something; are we building the right structure that the community agrees upon?'” he said.
One of the biggest concerns with the State Street project is parking. The developer is required to provide only 37 spots for the 71 apartments in an area neighbors say is already hurting for parking.
“Every spot right now is taken,” Teran said, pointing to curbside parking spots along State and Cherry streets Wednesday morning.
But Schulz downplayed parking concerns. She said the Stuyvesant Apartments, located at the intersection of Cherry and Madison across the street from where the new development will go it, has never had parking.
“Based on our experience, we don’t expect as huge parking burden added to the neighborhood,” Schulz said. “Not everyone owns a car. In this case, you do have a bus route that goes by the site. We also have bike lanes and again, people can walk if they’re coming to downtown.”
The city has already rewritten the zoning rule book to accommodate projects like State Street, streamlining the development process but eliminating requirements for public hearings and other methods that give local residents a voice. That means neighbors like Teran have few options beyond taking the city to court to satisfy their concerns.
“We’re exploring that possibility,” he said. “But before we go and start fighting, why don’t we sit down and talk?”