The Rapidian

Connecting downtown GoSite with Grand Rapids' great neighborhoods

Collaboration with neighborhood organizations is key to the success of our soon-to-be-open GoSite.
Nick Bakker, President of Alger Heights Business Association

Nick Bakker, President of Alger Heights Business Association /Kerri Vanderhoff

Underwriting support from:
Alger Barber Shop waiting area

Alger Barber Shop waiting area /Kerri Vanderhoff

Coming soon: The Old Goat restaurant

Coming soon: The Old Goat restaurant /Nick Bakker

As the new GoSite space in downtown Grand Rapids undergoes preparation for a spring grand opening, content building continues. Collaboration is key to broad inclusion of the many things this region has to offer. Connecting with the interesting and diverse neighborhoods of Grand Rapids is vital to communicating information to and from the GoSite hub. This happens through the neighborhood associations, neighborhood business districts, community organizations and individuals who are placemaking every day: they embody the passion and commitment to community that makes Grand Rapids a great place to live, work and play.

One example of such commitment can be found in the neighborhood of Alger Heights. Nick Bakker, president of the Alger Heights Business Association, invited the GoSite management for a tour of the area.

Alger Heights is bounded by Burton Street to the north, Kalamazoo Avenue to the east, 28th Street to the south, and Eastern Avenue to the west. Alger Heights neighborhood was built predominantly in the 1930s and '40s. Part of the endearing charm of the business district is its sensible appeal. This neighborhood is the real deal; its tenacity and authenticity transcend time.

The tour begins at the Seymour Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library, followed by a short walk down the block to the new middle school. Mr. Bakker points out the basketball and tennis courts, and other recreational features that serve the greater community as well. On the way back to the main business district, he stops to talk a bit about the Seymour Church on Alger Street, another important gathering place for the community, not only for faith-based services but also for civic functions as well.

Back on Eastern Avenue, there’s nice mix of small businesses lining the block. No need to get in the car to find groceries or a good butcher, residents ride their bike down to Ken’s Fruit Market for fresh finds. Once inside, the store is bigger than it appears from the outside as you wind your way through back alcoves of packaged goods and open tables of fruits and vegetables. The friendly grocer will be sure to help you find whatever it is you need.

Walk a few doors down to find the iconic Alger Hardware & Rental, a business that has served generations of neighborhood residents. Stop in to Alger Barber Shop for a trim, as locals have done for the past 40 years.

For those who love the mid-century design aesthetic, this place is a wonderland. One that didn’t get put in a storage shed for nearly half a century before being rediscovered, but rather lived it continuously without regard to the trends that come and go – all is kept tidy and in fine condition over the years.

While classic buildings and businesses form a solid core to Alger Heights, make no mistake in thinking that this area is stuck in the past. The goods and services of the longtimers are as relevant and contemporary as ever, and are complemented by other businesses that arrived more recently – relatively speaking!

Pick up some tasty fried foods at The Great White Fish & Chicken on the corner of Alger and Eastern. Be sure to arrive early on the weekends if you want a seat at the extremely popular Real Food Café. Keep your wardrobe spiffy at Alger Shoe Repair & Dry Cleaning. There are places to do banking or consult a lawyer. Then there’s the innovative Virtual Learning Center, offering a hub for support services in a renovated storefront along the block.

Coming soon, and highly anticipated, is The Old Goat restaurant. The construction is underway, the sign is up and it soon will be open for business in this welcoming little community.

“One of the things my wife and I really liked about the neighborhood when we decided to buy a house here is that small town feel, where you really get to know everyone in the community, and can find most of what you need just a bike ride from home,” says Bakker. “And yet it is just minutes away from downtown and access to all the amenities of a big city.”

Alger Heights - one of the many unique and interesting neighborhoods of Grand Rapids that the GoSite will highlight in its information center. Make your plans for a visit to this charming district soon.

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