Big changes in store for Belknap-Lookout neighborhood

11:02 PM, Jan 10, 2014   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Much re-development is coming to a northeast Grand Rapids area, the Belknap-Lookout neighborhood. Last year, GVSU said it would purchase a 14 acre parcel to expand its health sciences program, and a number of proposed housing developments are pending before city officials.

One of them, a large apartment community in the 600 block of Clancy, can't come too soon for some. For months, the entire block - a dozen homes, has been boarded up as the project to replace them awaits approval from city officials.

Developer Angel Gonzalez has been involved with that project as well as three others involving owner-occupied housing. Gonzalez has spent the past 10 years working to earn the trust of the neighborhood and the city. He hopes he has finally earned it. "I think we've planned the right way; I think we've come up with designs that work. I think the neighborhood is overall happy."

City officials next month may give final approve to the Clancy Street apartments. Gonzalez hopes to break ground this month on the Belknap Brownstones town homes project. "If you want to bring people into the city you have to have new housing people want to live in - they want to live in cool housing, they want to live in urban housing, they want to live downtown," Gonzalez said.

City Planning Director Suzanne Schultz says there is a huge demand for multi-family rental housing in the city. "We have no doubt it will completely fill up." Schultz also told WZZM 13 the Clancy apartments, "overall looks like a pretty good project for review."

The neighborhood association, the Neighbors of Belknap-Lookout, says, "our goal and our hope is people come in and responsibly develop those properties so that we have homes that are attractive, built with good materials, and draws a good crowd of people-- people that want to be part of a family neighborhood," according to association chair Steve Faas.

GVSU is only just beginning the planning process for its large parcel. No demolition of homes there is expected for several years.

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