Changes at Veteran’s Home have neighbors worried

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans began construction in 1885 as the centerpiece of the North End neighborhood that was sprouting around it.

Now, changes coming to the home have everyone wondering what comes next.

This week, officials with the Michigan Veteran’s Affairs Agency confirmed that the property on Coit Avenue near Lamberton Street — where the shuttered former vets’ clinic sits — will not be home to a senior care facility.

A privately run senior care facility was the plan earlier this month, but now the veteran’s agency says it will exercise its prerogative to reacquire the land it sold off in a complicated deal in the 1990s.

Officials tell 24 Hour News 8 that it will allow them greater flexibility as they undertake the construction of a new $54 million facility to replace the current home for veterans.

That property has worried residents who were convinced that the property was going to be used to build a facility for the homeless in the neighborhood.

“I mean there was a lot of concerns, from elderly people in the neighborhood all the way to people who moved in a week ago to people who have been there all their lives. People were very concerned with this,” said Linda Scott, a neighborhood leader.

They worried about what could result.

Scott is concerned about, “Our property values to go down, to have problems in the neighborhood, to have to worry about us being safe in our beds at night, I mean, nobody wants to worry about that.”

Over the last week, officials have released some basic concept renderings that show smaller units that separate the veterans depending on their level of need for care.

“The plans that I did see, yes, the facility will be a very nice facility in supporting the veterans,” Scott said.

The smaller units would allow for more individualized care.

If all goes as planned, construction could begin in one year.

“I feel it would be a better fit for the neighborhood,” Scott said.

Scott said she represents the general sentiment in the neighborhood that there needs to be more communication from the state about what is happening.

“They should have had better communication and concern about what our neighborhood thinks,” she said.

What exactly is planned for the former clinic on Coit Avenue is still up in the air. It may be used as a staging area for construction elsewhere on the site.