The Affordable Housing Smoke Screen

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Recently, amidst the increasingly clichéd announcements of upscale housing, breweries, coffee shops, and yoga studios coming to the rapidly gentrifying Westside, something different was unveiled. Many of the larger news outlets in the city (WOOD TV, WZZM 13, Mlive, and MiBiz) all reported that Rockford Construction – who is playing a major role in the… Read more »

Participation, Engagement, and other Illusions

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When speaking of development or gentrification in Grand Rapids, a constant refrain heard from city leaders, developers, and even many opponents is the need for more “community involvement” or “community engagement.” Development is presented as if it is a dialog or a process in which we are all on equal footing, rather than something done… Read more »

Coit Square: A Study in Class Transformation

Belknap Plans

Writing about every new development, restaurant, or boutique in Grand Rapids that is contributing to the gentrification of the city would be an onerous project. There are simply so many—from new yoga studios to multi-story residential developments—it would get redundant to highlight every example. It’s an exercise we’ll leave to the cheerleaders of development in… Read more »

Don’t Believe the Hype

Mlive News Coverage

Over the past few years, hardly a month has passed without an announcement of some new apartment building or development project in Grand Rapids. Each announcement is accompanied by a barrage of news articles, often portraying the development as inevitable. This coverage is colored by triumphalism, with the media clearly taking sides in favor of… Read more »

Empty Lots & Demolished Blocks: The Ongoing Decimation of the Belknap Neighborhood

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Sometimes gentrification is an adventurous entrepreneur opening a ramen noodle shop in a “gritty” neighborhood, a property management company purchasing working class homes and converting them to rentals for college students, or a hipster business opening a new cafe. It’s often a slow process that ebbs and flows, usually playing out over the course of… Read more »