Neighbors help shape direction of a mixed-use development in Grandmont Rosedale

When a stretch of Grand River Avenue was undergoing construction for a 2019 streetscape project, the offices of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation became a de facto community hub, welcoming in neighbors and passers-by with any questions they had about the traffic-calming project underway.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t allowed for the benefits of in-person access that organizations like Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation typically want to provide.

So as pre-development efforts ramped up for a mixed-use development at the corner of Grand River and Minock Street, community engagement and input sessions once commonplace for the GRDC could have been stymied. But shifting community engagement sessions online has allowed the GRDC to continue to engage the public as it works toward making the project a reality.

It may not be ideal, and virtual community meetings come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, but it gives the GRDC the opportunity to continue its dialog with the community that it serves.

“We want to make sure that what we’re doing and how we’re doing it remains consistent with what we hear from the community,” says Sherita Smith, executive director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.

“We’re in and of the community. The things we hear that folks want, that’s what we work toward.”

What they’re working toward is a mixed-use development with up to 36 residential units of market- and affordable-rate senior housing and 5,000 square feet of commercial space, details of which were shared during a community engagement session held online last week. It will be built on the site of a long-vacant restaurant that used to be an International House of Pancakes and then a coney island purchased by the GRDC in 2019.

The project has thus far received little publicity, Smith says, because until the GRDC has secured financing, the development is “just an idea.” But work is underway to secure permanent financing this year with construction hoped to begin in 2022 with the project to be completed in 2023.

The mixed-use development itself came from prior engagement efforts that date back to 2017. Residents of the Grandmont Rosedale community have long expressed a need for more restaurants in the area and the initial plans were to build a food hall. But, as was explained at last week's engagement session, which is available online, food halls failing elsewhere in the city prompted the organization to come up with a new idea.

With many of Grandmont Rosedale’s residents being older, Smith says that many have expressed a desire to continue living in the community into their later years. But the famous brick single-family homes that dominate the neighborhood’s housing stock might convince them to look elsewhere. Hence the GRDC’s new plan to offer senior housing in a mixed-use development, so that senior citizens can downsize and age in place at the same time.

Healthy dining options in the ground-floor commercial space remains the intent.

“This is a priority in the neighborhood that people wanted to see developed,” Smith says. “It was held by a speculator until we purchased it in 2019 with help from the Strategic Neighborhood Fund.”

The most recent community session held online reveals some neighborhood concerns, including issues of parking and privacy — even down to the nitty-gritty details, like where the dumpsters will be placed.

Visit the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation online for updates on future community engagement sessions and the development at 19505 Grand River Ave.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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