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Zoning issues plague apartment development

A zoning change in the city of Grand Rapids could lead to a series of undesirable effects, according to residents in the area. The city commission is working to decide whether to permit purchases and sales of a corner lot on Seward Ave NW and Lake Michigan Drive. If approved, the change would allow six properties to be converted into a $15 million massive apartment complex, which would include a five-story tower and a significant amount of retail space.

Although some residents are excited about the commercial real estate proposal, others are concerned that the zoning issues that arise from the transaction would have a negative effect on their neighborhood. Some residents believe that the project will introduce too many transient residents who could damage the existing culture in the area and actually devalue the area’s real estate.

The apartment complex is designed to attract young professionals and older retirees who are interested in living in the downtown neighborhood. Rent would reach as high as $1,800 for two-bedroom apartments. Neighborhood association representatives say that existing land-use plans should restrict this type of development from encroaching on the region. The current owner of the land already tore down three rental houses despite neighborhood opposition, and he was prevented from erecting duplexes on the land after the city denied that proposal.

Real estate transactions like this one affect more people than just the landowner and potential residents of the apartment complex. However, there should be room for development to allow for improved economic stability in Michigan neighborhoods. Commercial real estate investors should have be given the opportunity to pursue viable development options, sometimes even over the vocal opposition that arises from current residents.

Source: Source: MLive, "Will $15 million apartment plan for this vacant parcel 'do a Detroit on the West Side?'," Matt Vande Bunte, July 9, 2014

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