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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Residents raise concerns about DeVos backed development in southeast Grand Rapids

Photo of local Grand Rapids residents
Amplify GR
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Back in 2017,  residents of the Boston Square neighborhood were not pleased with Amplify GR’s community engagement tactics and felt that the nonprofit backed by the Doug and Maria Devos Foundation and the Cheri DeVos Foundation had alternative motives for wanting to develop in the area. 

So, officials from Amplify GR went back to the drawing board and restarted their community engagement. Jes Kramer is a resident of the area and says she first heard about Amplify GR when they were doing the town hall meetings to engage with community three years ago. In the latest round of community engagement Amplify GR has taken a more open house style to engage with neighbors. 

"It’s still direct engagement with neighbors, but I am so curious how my neighbors are feeling, and when we are all walking through sort of separately I don’t get to hear that in that room.”

Throughout the community engagement process 250 residents gave their input according to Latesha Lipscomb from Amplify GR. 

“And we heard repeatedly that neighbors wanted to see more investment in terms of early childhood development, we heard that there was a need for a grocery store, there was a large interest in community banking as well as adding a park and expanding green spaces.” 

And while Kramer says there is a lot of politics surrounding the development, ultimately the residents should be at the forefront of the plans.  

“I don’t want the loudest voice to be the people who are politically engaged but don’t live in the neighborhood, and I don’t want the loudest voices to be the people with money coming in and developing the neighborhood. The loudest voice should be the people that live there that are going to be directly affected.” 

The public will have the opportunity to voice their concerns about the development on Thursday at 1pm. If the development plans are approved on Thursday, some construction could begin later this year.

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News