GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Construction workers have finished demolishing a church on the 2200 block of Michigan Street NE, clearing the way for an 87-unit townhome development that will be built on the 18-acre property.
Orion Construction expects to begin building the townhomes, known as Michigan Meadows, in April, said company spokesperson Jason Wheeler. The project is expected to cost more than $15 million.
Rental prices for the townhomes will be made public in April. He said the townhomes are geared toward residents who want to be close to downtown but still enjoy the amenities that come with homeownership, such as a garage, a fireplace, a backyard, porch and patio. The units will be priced at the market rate.
“It offers that tranquility that people like in a townhome and accessibility to urban core amenities,” Wheeler said. The townhomes are about 3 miles east of the corner of Michigan Street NW and Monroe Avenue.
Orion purchased the 18-acre site, a portion of which sits atop a wetland, from the Wealthy Park Baptist Church for $1.2 million in April. The property is located at 2233 Michigan St. NE.
Some neighbors opposed the project when it went before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission for approval in March. They said they were concerned with additional traffic the project will generate, that the development would hurt the wetland, and with the potential design of the townhomes.
Commissioners approved the project, and granted a request by Orion to reduce the protection area for the wetland from 75 feet to 25 feet.
Orion’s plans call for setting aside four wetland areas and three storm water detention ponds and developing other portions of the property.
Wheeler said his company worked with neighbors to address concerns over the design of the project, including how close to the wetland and property lines the townhomes are located.
The property has been owned by Wealthy Park Baptist Church since 1982.
Founded as a Sunday School in 1875, the church was at its height when it was led by the late Rev. David Otis Fuller, a fundamentalist preacher who helped establish a children’s radio ministry and the Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary.
Orion received $2 million Brownfield tax increment financing incentive for the project, Wheeler said. Those dollars are to be used for asbestos abatement, demolition, and site preparation due to unsuitable soils, he said.
In March, Wealthy Park’s pastor, William Swem, said the church would relocate to a yet-to-be determined location if the sale to Orion Construction was completed. Officials with the church could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning.