City buys land to advance ‘Strategic Plan’

Photo courtesy of City of Grand Rapids

The City of Grand Rapids yesterday authorized purchase agreements for land located in the south and north sections of the city. The purchases of land would advance various objectives of the City of Grand Rapids’ Strategic Plan.

The City Commission agreed to buy 960 Bristol Avenue NW for $315,000 for green space/potential low-density residential development. The 11.88-acre parcel would support strategic priorities of improving health and the environment, and promoting economic prosperity and affordability for the community.

Jeremiah Gracia, economic development director, stated that, while the City has not committed to any specific uses now, purchasing the vacant Bristol Avenue property as it became available is in the public interest. He said having the parcel in the City’s inventory could include expansion of the City’s green space. It could also create up to three low-density residential lots along Bristol. The wooded acreage could also increase access to available green space to keep pace with projected population growth. Access to park and recreation services is one of the key elements to building a healthy community as detailed in the City’s Strategic Plan.

“The ability to get and preserve a property of this size without limiting other priorities such as much needed housing development is a unique opportunity and is recommended for its expected long-term benefit,” Gracia said.

The Commission also gave the go-ahead to buy 4040 and 4044 Kalamazoo Avenue SE for $500,000 for a future fire station on the City’s south side in an area of the City that is not receiving an acceptable level of fire protection service.  Acquiring the Kalamazoo Avenue property now allows the Grand Rapids Fire Department and the city manager to plan for the costs of development of a new fire station on a timeline that is yet to be determined.

Last year, work began to identify a suitable location in the Third Ward to add a new fire station and additional engine company to the city’s frontline fire deployment. GRFD performance metrics in the Kalamazoo district show that Engine 4 and Ladder 4 which are located north of 28th Street respond to more emergencies than any unit in the city. This district also has the most simultaneous calls for many years. These units protect the most road miles, population and taxable value out of any district in the city. To increase the department’s full effective response in a timely manner, the department concluded that adding a fire station and engine at the Kalamazoo/Kendall area would reduce current Station 4’s call volume by 41% and provide successful coverage for 67% of the current drive time fails.

Given the opportunity to significantly improve public safety and ensure a safe community, the Economic Development Department helped identify the property that would meet the service delivery objectives and be of adequate size for a fire station. Gracia said that the one-acre site is “ideally situated on the corner of Kalamazoo Avenue SE and Kendall Street SE. Access from both public rights-of-way provides for the ability to efficiently operate a modern station.”

Read more about the City of Grand Rapids Strategic Plan here.

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