Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Developers hope to remake Creston Corridor

616 Development announced Wednesday plans to build a $6 million mixed-use project including apartments and retail space. Scheduled for demolition to make room for the additional market rate housing is The Break Room, a closed pool hall.

For Sun Title Agency which spent significant monies expanding and redeveloping their business real estate on Plainfield Avenue, this is good news. The area has considerable room for growth, and city planners as well as local residents have been pushing for improvements for some time. Sun Title’s owners plan an overhaul of another of their properties, the Creston Market. This grocery will also be expanded and plan to take advantage of Grand Rapids’s enthusiasm for local craft beers and other beverages to expand their offerings and bring in new clientele.

Two years ago, after an infrastructure assessment, this entire stretch of Plainfield was repaved and bio-retention islands were added to slow down traffic, address water run-off problems, and beautify the road. Unfortunately, while it looked better, the foot traffic did not emerge, and plenty of storefronts have remained empty. The crime rate for the streets surrounding that section of Plainfield remains stubbornly high compared to other areas of Creston, and many neighbors perceive it as less safe.

However, a year ago, the Grand Rapids Public Schools closed Creston High School and moved City High/Middle to the old Creston location. City High is currently ranked the 5th best high school in Michigan. The impact of this decision on the possibilities for future business development should not be understated. Studies have shown that most juvenile crime is committed immediately after school lets out. The three most common juvenile crimes are disorderly conduct, shoplifting, and assault. So the drop in crime in the northern neighborhoods of Grand Rapids in 2014, down 20 percent for property crimes and 23 percent for violent crimes, will be a motivating factor in the timing of this development.

Given these changes and the additional investment, the revitalization of the Creston area looks quite possible now.