GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A proposed development is one step closer to happening in Grand Rapids' Boston Square neighborhood. The city planning commission gave it the green light Thursday afternoon.
The nonprofit organization, Amplify GR, is looking to develop nine acres in the Boston Square neighborhood.
The hurdle for the group was getting the area rezoned and the proposed land use approved.
Amplify seeks to create a mixed-use development. In part, it would include affordable housing for various income levels, local and minority-owned retail shops, a bank, and a grocery store.
During public comment, several people from the neighborhood spoke in support of the project. There were also several who opposed it. Some asked for the planning commission to hold off on approving rezoning to deliberate on the specifics and consequences a little longer. They're concerned about gentrification.
Alex Markham, a Boston Square resident told the commission, "(Amplify GR has) been in this space since 2017. Yes, it's been three years. But it's been three years for a reason. They did not have trust. They didn't have trust for a reason. They had to go back. They had to lick their wounds. They had to adjust and come back with something that would actually work for the community, ways that they can actually convince people that it's not just for their own profits."
"Yes, they're passionate, but they're passionate about money," Markham added. "We need to be honest and we need to talk about that."
Resident Whitney White spoke in favor of the project.
"As a community, as-is, that community is depressing and when you hear about the Boston Square community or the 49507 zip code you often think about the negative things," White said. "So you think about the poverty, the crime rates, the poor performing schools, the high unemployment rates, and things like that. And honestly, whatever Amplify does is going to be better than what we have."
Jon Ippel, Amplify GR's executive director, told FOX 17, "So this really is about bringing community benefits. Specifically what the neighbors of Boston Square desire, and so we recognize that there are a lot of challenges in that and concerns.
"On one hand, we want to create more wealth creation for homeowners, and on the other hand, we want to create more opportunities for affordable housing. And so sometimes there's just a lot of concern on how those things get integrated together," Ippel said.