Neighbors push back against proposed GR development

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A proposed development the Grand Rapids Planning Commission will consider Thursday is being met with major opposition from neighboring residents. 

The 2200 Griggs development, also known as Breton Hamlet, would go in the Eastgate neighborhood on the southeast side of the city. 

The site would replace a residential street that dead ends to wetlands with a 48-unit condominium community for people 55 and older.

“There’s one exit and one exit for this development on Griggs,” Eastgate resident Megan Wolenberg told News 8 Tuesday. “The negatives of this development outweigh the positives for me.”

The developer on the project is Mosaic Properties and Homes, which is also behind the Celadon community near Knapp’s Corner.

Opposition for the project first gained traction in 2018 when residents from both Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids, which borders the development area to the north, voiced concerns. 

That July, the EGR city commission denied a request to use Oxford Road as access to the site. 

“East Grand Rapids said, ‘No it’s not happening.’ And so now the developers have defaulted to the Grand Rapids side, which is Griggs,” Wolenberg explained. “These condos range from $300,000 to $800,000 apiece and the average home sale in our neighborhood, in Eastgate, is $225,000. It just feels like a separate, upscale community dropped into the heart of our community.”

Ahead of the planning commission meeting Thursday, the agenda packet consists of more than 180 pages worth of letters and emails from area residents asking the commission to deny the development. 

One letter was in favor of the new community. 

The main concerns surround increased traffic, depletion of the wetlands and overall character that attracted people to the neighborhood in the first place. 

“It feels like a David and Goliath story because we are a humble but mighty little community on the southeast side of Grand Rapids and this is a very well-known developer in the area as well trying to build a 48-unit condo complex in sort of the heart in our community,” Wolenberg said. 

Mosaic Properties President Brad Rosschafter sent News 8 the following statement Tuesday:

“Mosaic Properties is excited to propose the construction of 48 housing units for persons who are 55 and over. A recent presentation to the Grand Rapids City Commission cited a need for nearly 9,000 units over the next five years to meet housing demand. Mosaic will develop three different types of “missing middle” housing products in addition to 6 single-family homes. We value urban places, walkability, and contributing to the creation of a vibrant community. Breton Hamlet will be an exceptional example of how small-scale development can occur in a neighborhood.

“We know that change can be hard, especially if it is in your backyard. Five decades ago most of the surrounding area was open space. The property at 2200 Griggs was always planned for development, as evidenced by the existing sanitary sewer line that bisects the site as well as three drains that discharge East Grand Rapids’ stormwater on the land. Flooding issues created by the stormwater has been problematic for adjacent properties. These issues will be remedied by connecting pipes and installing an infiltration basin. A wetland permit has been granted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

“Located a block away from Breton Village and Rapid bus lines, this infill project will help reduce urban sprawl into Kent County’s prime farmland and increase the efficiency of existing public infrastructure. Breton Hamlet is designed for aging adults because of a strong demand for these housing types, as well as concerns expressed by neighbors over traffic and noise. Many neighbors in the area have been in the same home for 40 years. It is hoped that by offering a new housing product geared towards that age group the availability of existing single-family homes for the next generation of Grand Rapidians will become more available.

“We designed the project with the intention of being compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. Anticipated traffic counts for this development are less than if the property were developed for single-family homes. Abutting property owners have been offered the opportunity to work with a landscape architect to locate trees that will screen their views. Most housing units are 1 ½ stories in height with high-quality finishes of Hardie siding, brick, and/or stucco. Small gathering places, front porches, hidden garages, and a community garden will encourage neighbor interaction.

“The Planning Commission Special Land Use request will be heard on Thursday, August 13th at 1pm. Mosaic Properties looks forward to presenting the project to the Planning Commission for their consideration at that time.”