Boston Square Together Development Approved for Rezoning
10-Acre Development Project in Boston Square Approved for Rezoning
Boston Square Together partners move forward with plans to increase equitable outcomes and widen pathways for all in local neighborhood
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Aug. 26, 2019) — Amplify GR, Boston Square Neighborhood Association and Oakdale Neighbors are pleased to announce that the City Commission has approved the group’s Planned Residential Development (PRD) request for rezoning a 10-acre site in the heart of Boston Square. As a result, community development dedicated to widening pathways in a neighborhood that has experienced decades of inequity can move forward to the next phase. The Commission’s vote took place after a year-long collaboration between neighbors, business owners, community stakeholders, the City of Grand Rapids and the three local nonprofit organizations to ensure the development project includes more equitable opportunities throughout Boston Square.
The nonprofits formed “Boston Square Together” (BSQ Together) last summer and have since collaboratively developed a shared vision alongside residents that included an Initial Voluntary Equitable Development and Community Partnership Agreement (CPA). Rezoning of the area allows BSQ Together partners to begin the development process on critical assets to the community, including the provision of more affordable housing options, increased opportunities for home ownership, an early childhood learning center and an entrepreneurship hub where local businesses can incubate their ideas and passions. These amenities and several others were identified and ideated last year during three open house events hosted in the neighborhood by BSQ Together.
“As a lifelong resident of the Boston Square Neighborhood, I have longed to see a long-term vision implementing positive changes within our community,” said Pastor Kenneth Hoskins, executive director of Oakdale Neighbors. “I believe that the Boston Square Together Project will initiate that type of change. Not only am I looking at this opportunity from a residential prospective, but I also have the prospective as a partner in this project representing Oakdale Neighbors.”
A critical component of the collaboration process was the development of the CPA. This agreement creates a shared framework of how community development reflects neighborhood priorities and has been coined by City staff as “a model for other neighborhoods to follow.” The CPA outlines a variety of housing, economic and community amenity goals that require shared responsibility for greater collective impact and frames a set of neighborhood priorities that a group of committed organizations, implementation partners and residents will work together to achieve over the next 15+ years to create more equitable outcomes in Boston Square.
“Our number one priority has been and will remain to collectively provide neighbors access and opportunities to benefit from neighborhood growth,” said Jon Ippel, executive director of Amplify GR. “We’ve held important conversations with residents, taken desired community assets from previous area specific plans and are now ready to execute the vision created with neighbors that is inclusive of those who live, work and play in Boston Square.”
“Boston Square Neighborhood Association (BSNA) has been advocating for neighbors early on in the development process,” said Victor Williams, cofounder of Boston Square Neighborhood Association. “BSNA is excited to walk alongside neighbors through the next steps in this process as we continue to hear their voice and include their wisdom in the process, as we feel working together collaboratively will provide realistic and equitable solutions for our community.”
After a year of engaging with local neighbors and community leaders, the partners of BSQ Together are committed to achieving the following:
- Affordable housing options for a wide range of income levels
- Homeownership opportunities on both the site and surrounding neighborhoods
- High-quality and sustainable design
- Dedicated community spaces
- Emphasis on construction contracts for minority, women and 49507-owned companies
- Neighborhood-based construction employment opportunities
- Dedicated spaces for local business ownership, with an emphasis on reflecting the diversity of 49507
- High-quality Early Childhood Learning Center
- A future design that integrates an equity-focused approach to HEART for all: Health. Education. Arts. Recreation. Technology.
A true community-based initiative, BSQ Together is committed to ensuring the continued involvement of local voices throughout the development process. To that end, the group plans to hold public meetings in the coming months to share plans with neighbors and partners.
To learn more about BSQ Together, visit www.bostonsquaregr.org. For more information about Amplify GR, Boston Square Neighborhood Association and Oakdale Neighbors, visit www.amplifygr.org, https://www.facebook.com/BostonSquareNeighborhoodAssociation/ and www.oakdaleneighbors.org.
About Boston Square Neighborhood Association
Founded in 2019, The mission of the Boston Square Neighborhood Association is to improve and enhance the quality of life, renew pride, and promote community awareness by coming together through an authentic resident voice on issues of beautification, home ownership, safety, security, and other resident driven concerns.
Learn more about Boston Square Neighborhood Association at https://www.facebook.com/BostonSquareNeighborhoodAssociation/
About Oakdale Neighbors
Oakdale Neighbors is a Christian Community Development Organization established in 1996, with a vision to help create a neighborhood of vitality and grace by discovering, developing, and connecting neighbors’ skills, and resources. The organization believes that all people and neighborhoods have God-Given gifts and assets. Its mission is to invite residents and local institutions to act collectively to create a stronger, safer, more caring neighborhood where all people and gifts are welcome.
About Amplify GR
Amplify GR seeks to widen pathways so that more residents can participate in and benefit from neighborhood growth in the Boston Square, Cottage Grove and the surrounding areas. Through partnerships with residents, businesses, community organizations and funders, Amplify GR works in four areas of impact: Jobs and Entrepreneurship, Housing, Education and Community Wellbeing.