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LINC celebrates Southtown Square

LINC Community Revitalization celebrates Southtown Square ribbon cutting with Mayor and Community Development groups from across the state. The facility will house 24 low income households and offer 6,000 of commercial space for local businesses.
Ribbon cutting with Mayor George Heartwell

Ribbon cutting with Mayor George Heartwell /Eric Tank

Underwriting support from:
Double bedroom unit kitchen

Double bedroom unit kitchen /Eric Tank

Hall Street facade

Hall Street facade /Eric Tank

LINC Community Revitalization has completed Phase Two of their $13 Million Southtown efforts, restoring the block of Hall and Madison which once housed TJ’s Appliances. After the year long construction project, through the record breaking winter and over the obstacles of many funding partners, LINC officially opened Southtown Square on October 31.

The four story energy efficient building offers 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and 24 affordable rental units above. The units range from one to three bedrooms, some with on-suite bathrooms and all with in unit laundry. LINC sought local residents with less 60% area median household income for the application process. Two of the four commercial spaces and all but three of the housing units have already been leased.

Mayor George Heartwell was on hand to cut the ribbon stretched across the front door.

“The City is delighted to be a part of this," he said. "You can see it in the brick-and-mortar, obviously, but more important is the lives that it’s touched.”

Those lives don’t just include the renters. LINC made it a priority to contract with minority-owned local businesses, such as R&R Mechanical. In a world that is increasingly outsourcing to bigger corporations, LINC says it is working to empower local businesses as well as its residents.

“We live, work and play right in this community,“ Co-Executive Director Darel Ross said to the crowd.

Since 2002, LINC has been working on neighborhood and community engagement within Kent County. They completed their Phase One townhomes last year across the street and have plans to continue their stabilization projects in the 49507 district well into the future.

Facts about 49507 suggests that there is still plenty to do. The zip code is comprised of 40% renters (compared to a state average of 28%) with an average household income $14,600 below the state wide numbers. 33.5% of residents are living at or below the poverty line. The population holds a higher minority group presence than the state average and lower home values. Finding affordable housing in this market could sometimes mean subsidized and other times substandard living conditions.

The measure of an affordable house payment, according to MSHDA, is no longer limited to the rent payment. When talking about the affordability, transportation and utility bills also have to be considered. The weight of a lengthy drive (or even a vehicle at all) and high utility bills from poor insulation or constant repairs must be included to quantify if a home is truly affordable for a family. Southtown Square’s facility is close to the bus line and convenient to amenities. The energy efficiency will keep utilities as low as possible for the incoming households.

“As a nonprofit, we are always looking for innovative ways to bring resources to the community.” Ross continued.

Along with housing, LINC provides coaching, business incubator training, workshops, financial planning resources, career development and coworking space to more than 8,000 networked residents. Their holistic approach to empowerment reaches beyond the front door and into the lives of the people they serve.

MSHDA, LC Companies, Wolverine Building Group, the City of Grand Rapids, LINC staff, community partners and residents were all on hand to celebrate and tour Southtown Square.

“We hope to continue affecting change here," said Ross, "and look forward to this neighborhood becoming a vibrant and modern place to live, work and play with our Southtown development as our focal point.”

The development is located at 413 Hall Street Southeast.

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