GR Nonprofits to Redevelop Former Industrial Site with Housing, Offices, ‘Tiny Home’ Community
August 31, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS — A pair of Grand Rapids nonprofits plan to redevelop a vacant furniture manufacturing building on the city’s south side into housing and office space and also construct an onsite tiny home community.
Mel Trotter Ministries and Next Step of West Michigan — which merged in July 2020 — are leading the Hope Village development at 101, 119 and 135 Garden St. SE. The 1.65-acre site includes the vacant former home of Kindel Furniture.
The development team plans to construct 16 tiny homes and renovate the second floor of the 15,760-square-foot furniture building into 10 apartments. The first floor would include shared amenities including office and laundry space.The Grand Rapids Planning Commission will consider a request from the developers at its Sept. 8 meeting to consider rezoning the project site.
Mel Trotter and Next Step, which acquired the property in late 2020, included the tiny homes component because of their relatively low construction cost, said Scott Jonkhoff, founder and director of Next Step of West Michigan. Hope Village aims to offer a walkable community that allows tenants a stepping stone to home ownership, he said.
“Design-wise, tiny homes lend themselves to affordability because you can create some density in a development,” Jonkhoff said. “This would be one of the first (tiny home) projects in our city, so we’re hoping this development works for us but also that it paves the way for some other folks.”
Eleven of the 16 tiny homes would be 10 feet by 20 feet in size. The other five homes would be 20 feet by 24 feet. Construction costs at this point range from $4 million to $5 million, Jonkhoff said.
Rent prices — though not solidified — will be “at the lower end” between $220 and $440 a month, he added.
Next Step of West Michigan will serve as the general contractor for Hope Village. Dixon Architecture is the project designer and Nederveld Inc. is the civil engineer. Construction could start in spring of 2023.
Next Step of West Michigan is a faith-based nonprofit that offers skills training in construction, manufacturing and municipal cleanup to people who struggle to find employment. The nonprofit services people struggling to find stable housing or who have dealt with previous incarceration or addiction. The nonprofit’s office is located across the street from the planned Hope Village project.
“This project will help us be more of a presence in this neighborhood,” Jonkhoff said. “It’s an underserved, pretty rough neighborhood and we’re looking to improve it with this project.”
The 2020 merger between Next Step and Mel Trotter aligned with Mel Trotter’s long-term vision of boosting its revenue through social enterprise businesses, executives said at the time. Over the next 10 years, Mel Trotter aims to derive 70 percent of its revenue through these enterprises, shifting from a mostly donor-based model.