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Neighbors, board review Kensington proposals

District still accepting building repurposing bids through May 31

Grand Rapids — District leaders held a community meeting at Southwest Middle High School – Academia Bilingüe on April 12 to review and discuss proposals for the future of the Kensington building.

Located at 1031 Kensington Ave. SW, in the Black Hills neighborhood, the former Adelante High School has been vacant since 2004. 

Alex Smart, executive director of facilities and operations, presented information about the three property proposals the district has received to date and sought input from residents of the Black Hills neighborhood, alongside Superintendent Leadriane Roby and members of the Board of Education.

The board originally recommended that the building be leveled as part of GRPS’ ongoing Facilities Master Plan, but has since been working with the community to determine its future. 

Alex Smart, executive director of facilities and operations, listens as Black Hills neighbors share their thoughts on repurposing the Kensington building

“We have been having some conversations with the Black Hills community to find out if there are things we should be doing with this building,” Roby said. “It’s important for our board to be engaged in this process and to engage our community as well.”

The district distributed meeting invitations to residents living within 500 feet of the building, according to the board, though several attendees indicated by a show of hands they had not received information about the meeting. 

Here are the three proposals GRPS has received, to date, for the Kensington building:

  • FIBR Carpet Recycling submitted a plan to repurpose the building into a carpet recycling center to support their mission of landfill diversion and provide educational opportunities about recycling. 
  • A bid from CopperRock Construction would redevelop the Kensington building into 41 two- and three-bedroom apartments with a community center space.
  • Eenhoorn LLC, a real estate investment and property management company, proposed converting the building into affordable housing units for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. Former school office spaces would be utilized for a social worker and part-time medical professional on site. 

All three proposals can be read in their entirety here

Several residents of the Black Hills neighborhood attended a community input session at Southwest Middle High School – Academia Bilingüe

After review, Black Hills residents in attendance voiced concern about increased traffic in the area, given what they cited as already poor road conditions. Several also questioned the impact of having permanent housing for formerly homeless individuals in the neighborhood.

The district is still accepting proposals for the Kensington property, having extended the deadline to May 31. Bid materials can be delivered to 1331 Martin Luther King Jr. St. SE, or emailed to Smart at SmartA@grps.org. 

If the board does not accept any of the proposals, the building will be demolished and the vacant land re-established as a green space for the community under GRPS ownership. 

Read more from Grand Rapids: 
Kensington building proposal deadline extended 
Education space, the ‘third teacher’

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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