West Side sees signs of positive change in revitalization process

West Side's road to revitalization

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - It's gone from an eyesore to a local hot-spot. The Grand Rapids West Side has been undergoing a massive makeover the past few years with new businesses and housing popping up all over Bridge Street. 

"I love when I walk outside too, the old church steeple there it looks really nice out here when you come out on a bright blue day like this," neighbor Kyle Locke said.

Locke moved to Grand Rapids' West Side, last month.

"It just seemed like a really attractive sort of vibrant new thing going on down here," Locke said.

But it wasn't always so vibrant.

"It was always a place where if I had to live here then I'd always be going somewhere else," Locke said.

Monsignor Louis Stasker can attest to that. He grew up on this side.

"Back in those days, this is what I'd refer to as working poor," Monsignor Stasker said.

Desloate streets and empty homes lined the area.

"Businesses were closing because it didn't have the population to support those businesses," Stasker said.

But over the last several years, the West Side has seen a drastic change.

"Because of the students from grand valley, because of the businesses coming in here and kind of restoring the life of the neighborhood," Stasker said. "I think over the next 15 years, this is going to be very noticeable in the upgrading of the environment and the feeling of pride of being here and the way people take care of their residence."

The most recent addition was the opening of New Holland Brewing.

"I think it's even going to go down Bridge Street, quite a bit--it just feels like it'll spread, I hope it does," Locke said.

Now, it's all a matter of time.

"What we've done here is come to an area that's been ignored for a good 20-25 years and we just have to be patient because the development, the resurgence will take time," Stasker said.

In the meantime, Locke is glad to call the west side, the best side.

"And now it's like if I'm going to live here, you know I'm going to stay around at night, it's a lot more exciting," Locke said.

In June, Rockford Construction in partnership with Meijer, announced early plans to add a neighborhood  grocery store as part of a larger development on the city's west side. There hasn't been any mention of when that addition is expected to be completed. 

(© 2016 WZZM)


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