The Rapidian Home

Community updates: Thursday, Jan. 28

UICA reopening July 15 in new downtown location; city commissioners approve ground-floor housing in business districts; large-scale COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens at DeVos Place; and more.
UICA's new downtown location inside Kendall College of Art and Design's Woodbridge N. Ferris Building.

UICA's new downtown location inside Kendall College of Art and Design's Woodbridge N. Ferris Building. /Kendall College of Art and Design

UICA reopening July 15 in new downtown location

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) will be reopening on July 15 at its new downtown Grand Rapids location, it announced Tuesday.

The over 40-year-old art organization will now reside in the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building at 17 Pearl St. NW, on the campus of Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD). Its reopening comes after closing its previous space at Fulton St. W last March due to the pandemic. Its art galleries remained closed ever since.

The reopening, which will coincide with UICA’s 44th anniversary, will embrace the storied arts organization’s latest transformation with a total of seven opening exhibitions that will activate spaces within and around the building,” UICA said in a Tuesday statement. “UICA will host a constricted celebration, following the COVID-19 safety guidelines and social distancing protocols required at that time.”

Moving to the new KCAD space was a result of the organization reviewing its financial situation in light of COVID-related strains and the continued cost of maintaining its Fulton St. facility, UICA Executive Director Miranda Krajniak said in a June 2020 message to supporters.

KCAD, owned by Ferris State University, merged with UICA in 2013. KCAD’s Fed Galleries, which hosted student art exhibitions, is where UICA now resides in the Ferris Building. The remaining staff of both organizations are now combined.

Leading the UICA’s new exhibition efforts as Director of Curatorial is Michele Bosak, who previously filled this role for the Fed Galleries. She is overseeing UICA’s upcoming series of rotating shows, which invites artists to respond to the Ferris Building’s unique spaces in ways that focus on the interconnectedness of space, identity, and human experience.

Since last year, UICA staff have been working in preparation for July’s reopening – moving and making adjustments to the lobby, corridor, and galleries,” the organization said in its statement. “By activating the outdoor grounds and creating auxiliary spaces outside of the traditional galleries, UICA envisions these living-room-style areas as comfortable gathering places to sit, meet, read, or work while surrounded by art.”

UICA is currently holding open calls for artist submissions for several of the exhibitions opening in July. Among them are The Art of Living Together, Other World, and Whereabouts: The Influence of Place and Space.

Details about UICA’s upcoming exhibitions and submission deadlines are available on its websites’ Art Exhibitions & Events page.


City commissioners approve ground-floor housing in business districts

Grand Rapids city commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a zoning amendment allowing for ground-floor residential units in buildings located in business districts.

The amendment aims to provide greater flexibility in ground-floor use requirements, according to the city’s Planning Department, giving building owners the opportunity to convert vacant or underutilized ground-floor space intended for businesses into residential space.

The policy change comes as the city’s 2020 Housing Needs Assessment found a significant shortage of affordable housing and housing supply in Grand Rapids. The report estimated a need for an additional 5,340 units to keep pace with demand over the next five years.

According to Planning Director Kristen Turkelson, COVID-related impacts have also further strained an already challenging retail market.

The impact of the public health crisis has exacerbated an already challenged commercial market and, although the demand for commercial space has lessened, the amount of available space has not changed,” Turkelson said. “Additionally, the need for housing units, generally, and affordable units, specifically, is well documented. These changes were necessary and critical to the continued vitality of our neighborhood business areas.”

All housing-related amendments approved by the city commission on Tuesday are:

  • Ground floor residential use now permitted in Traditional Business Areas and Commercial zone districts.
  • Office use now permitted in Traditional Business Areas when located at rear of building and when fronting on secondary and side streets.
  • Building heights of four stories now permitted in Traditional Business Areas without a height bonus.

Overall, the amendments result in a 50 percent increase in floor area eligible for residential use city-wide, according to the Planning Department. They take effect March 1.

More details about the city’s new zoning amendments are available on its website.


Large-scale COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens at DeVos Place

A new large-scale COVID-19 vaccine clinic opened inside downtown Grand Rapids’ DeVos Place on Monday, allowing large numbers of eligible people to be vaccinated in a central location.

Called the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic, the site was created through a collaboration between the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), Spectrum Health, and Mercy Health.

Currently, the clinic is offering vaccines by appointment only based on vaccine availability. Based on current supply, it’s unable to make full use of the DeVos Place’s capacity right now. As more vaccine becomes available, it will be able to schedule more appointments at the site.

According to Vaccinate West Michigan – a resource network of area health organizations –, DeVos Place was selected as a large-scale vaccine clinic because it’s on bus routes, accessible by multiple interstate highways, has adequate parking, and is centrally located.

Priority groups currently eligible in Michigan for vaccines include people ages 65 and older, healthcare workers, essential workers such as teachers and police, and others in Phases 1A and 1B of Michigan’s vaccine rollout plan.

Appointment registration for the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic is available on its website.


SpartanNash pharmacies partner with state to administer COVID-19 vaccines

Grand Rapids-based SpartanNash is preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccines at its company-owned pharmacies, it announced Wednesday. Its rollout is in partnership with the State of Michigan and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SpartanNash owns several stores with pharmacies in West Michigan, such as its Family Fare and D&W Fresh Market chains.

People can sign up to be notified when the vaccine is available at their nearest SpartanNash pharmacies through their chains’ websites, in their “Pharmacy” sections.

With multiple COVID-19 vaccinations approved and ready for broad distribution in the coming months, SpartanNash and our family of retail pharmacies are here for our store guests,” said SpartanNash’s Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer, Lori Raya. “We are committed to providing them with a safe, clean environment to receive this important vaccine.”

Ongoing updates on SpartanNash’s COVID-related efforts are available on its website.


Sharing your stories

The Rapidian encourages local residents to share their own stories related to civic, economic, and public health developments in the Grand Rapids area on The Rapidian’s platform. To get started as a community reporter, visit

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.