5 Ways Grand Rapids Got A Little More Awesome

From inner-city scholarship funding for college to better roads and the elimination of a city program that placed the burden of sidewalk repair on homeowners, Grand Rapids is an even more awesome place to live today than it was as recently as a week ago … Here are some of the reasons why!

1. Area Farmers Markets Are Opening Back Up! Get your fresh produce fix at any one of several Grand Rapids area farmers markets that are once again opening up for the season! Fulton Street Farmers Market, Grand Rapids Downtown Market’s Outdoor Market, Ada Farmers Market and the Friday Farm Stand in the southeast neighborhoods including Alger Heights and Garfield Park are just a few of the local ones that are either up and running or opening soon. Did you know that the Spectrum Health Medical Center even has their own Farmer’s Market? Wow! Now that just brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “healthy eating.”

2. ‘Challenge Scholars’ Program Puts Area Kids Through College! A history-making partnership between Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation has raised $26M to help make college a reality for kids living on Grand Rapids’ northwest side by way of a program called Challenge Scholars. Students who attend both Harrison Park Elementary and Westwood Middle School AND go on to graduate from Union High School are eligible for the program which will cover the cost of tuition, fees and books to a student’s Michigan college or university of choice, provided the student applies for financial aid first. It is estimated that $2.4M will be spent for 200 kids per year to attend college. Qualifying students will have to sign a promise when they’re in sixth grade to graduate from Union High School. The graduating Class of 2020 – or this year’s current batch of Westwood Middle School 6th graders – are first in line to receive the scholarship.

3. Voters Uphold Grand Rapids Street Tax to Repair City Roads! Potholes, begone! The people of Grand Rapids have spoken – and voted during Tuesday’s local election – with a record margin of two-thirds in favor of an income tax to fix Grand Rapids’ pothole-ridden streets and sidewalks. Campaign managers for “Fix Our Roads GR” played a strategic role in helping organize volunteers and support around the election item to smooth out Grand Rapids city surfaces. Smaller-scale repair jobs will start as soon as this summer with the more in-depth reconstructions projects beginning next season.

4. Voters Eliminate Grand Rapids’ Sidewalk Inspection Program! The city’s 16-year-old “Point of Sale” inspection program has finally come to an end thanks to voter support to amend the city charter and make the city of Grand Rapids start paying for those repairs. The inspection program, which required adjacent property owners to pay for the cost to have their sidewalks inspected and repaired as necessary before the property could change hands, caused headaches aplenty for real estate agents and title insurance companies alike since it had a tendency to delay the successful close of a home sale. This monumental change is effective immediately, allowing homeowners all over the city to breathe a sigh of relief!

5. Riverside Elementary Renovating to Brand New Senior Center! A Grand Rapids elementary school which closed in 2010 and has been sitting vacant in the Creston neighborhood ever since will soon reopen as a new senior center living facility. Vista Springs Living will remodel the school to a 40-apartment complex to include a 15,000 sqft addition to the current 36,000 sqft building. Also included will be a wellness center with rehabilitation programs, on-site dining and entertainment, plus transportation services. Creston neighbors will be able to benefit from a community theater and conference center with private meeting room spaces at the site along with the school’s existing playground. Groundbreaking will start as early as June, with project completion slated for April 2015.

6. Honorable Mention – Grand Rapids Breaks 80 Degrees! That’s right, for the first time Since September 11, 2013, temperatures in Grand Rapids climbed well about 80 degrees yesterday, prompting residents to get out and enjoy the sunshine. A most welcome gift that was well deserved following our excessively long, cold winter! 

For more information about living in Grand Rapids or the West Michigan area at large, please contact SVG Real Estate Firm at (616) 439-1927.

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