Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Roosevelt Park Neighborhood, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Located just south of Downtown Grand Rapids along Grandville Avenue, the Roosevelt Park neighborhood is a rich tapestry of people, place, and culture that has been informed by continued transition and evolution. Rooted in Dutch heritage, this dynamic people-centered and place-based neighborhood mosaic is now cultivated by an emerging Latino and African American community.
This neighborhood authenticity, combined with its proximity to downtown, location along a transit corridor, burgeoning citizen-driven arts culture, and a collection of heritage buildings make it one of a handful of near neighborhoods that will likely experience rapid new investment in the near future. With this new investment potentially looming on the horizon came fears of gentrification and displacement amongst neighborhood residents.
This Area Specific Plan (ASP), which is an amendment to the City of Grand Rapids Master Plan, is the neighborhood’s proactive response to these fears. Adopted in April 2017, the bilingual ASP is a citizen-driven vision that seeks to “self-gentrify” by ensuring that new growth and development is “BY the neighbors, not FOR the neighbors”.
The ASP is the culmination of a broad year-long community engagement process that included a week-long charrette, door-to-door conversations in homes and businesses, visioning meetings, a neighborhood survey, and a tactical installation along Grandville Avenue to simulate the Plan’s proposed traffic calming recommendations.
The inclusive process has empowered the neighborhood residents to confidently advocate for their Plan’s recommendations, giving the ASP the ability to gain traction with realistic implementation.
The highly-visual, graphics-based Plan provides a neighborhood vision that is organized around five essential elements and seven critical nodes along the corridor. These place-based nodes provide a framework for land use decision-making, urban design, transit planning, and infill development. Vision-based techniques are recommended for each node and can be applied at short-, mid-, and long-term intervals in order to provide tenable implementation and measurable success.
After only three-months, the ASP has resulted in the City changing zoning within the neighborhood to protect single-family homes, encourage development within targeted areas along the corridor, and permit diverse missing-middle housing within the nodes. Additionally, the Plan has led to renewed and meaningful discussions to remove a truck route designation along the avenue, a doubling of the amount of sheltered bus stops along the corridor, and a neighborhood-driven design of a mixed-income, mixed-use infill development the includes a new high school, a small pharmacy, incubator retail and office space, and a diverse spectrum of home-ownership and rental residential opportunities.