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Advisory committee recommends demolition of Kensington building

Grand Rapids — The Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education will decide the future of the Kensington building later this month, after receiving input from the Black Hills neighborhood residents. Based on neighbors’ concerns and ongoing problems of vandalism and trespassing, an advisory committee has recommended the long-vacant building be torn down. 

GRPS collected proposals from those interested in developing the site at 1031 Kensington Ave. SW and brought those proposals to a community input session on April 12. Board treasurer Jen Schottke said surrounding residents’ concerns about the proposed commercial uses of the building, children’s safety and the pride they have in their neighborhood were heard by officials considering the proposals. 

“The Ad Hoc Facilities Committee voted to put forth a recommendation to the board to reject the three proposals and for the district to move forward with demolishing the Kensington building and restoring the green space,” she said at the May 1 board meeting. 

The three proposals GRPS received for the Kensington building include:

  • FIBR Carpet Recycling submitted a plan to repurpose the building into a carpet recycling center.
  • A bid from CopperRock Construction would redevelop the Kensington building into 41 apartments.
  • Eenhoorn LLC, a real estate investment and property management company, proposed affordable housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. 

The district is no longer accepting Requests For Use for the property, Executive Director of Communications Leon Hendrix said. 

The public is invited to weigh in during public comment at the Monday, May 8 Board of Education meeting at 5:30 p.m. The board will then discuss the three proposals and vote whether to accept any of them or approve demolition on the following Monday, May 15, at 6:30 p.m at Southwest Middle High School – Academia Bilingüe.

‘We feel it’s the  best decision to make, not only for the community but for the district.’

— Larry Johnson, GRPS executive director of Public Safety & School Security

Executive Director of Facilities & Operations Alex Smart, an ad hoc committee member, shared some calculations the district made about the safety of the property, contributing to the recommendation to tear it down.  The former Adelante High School has been vacant since 2004. 

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve spent 300 man-hours tending to Kensington, replacing doors and windows, had eight break-ins and seven people arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering,” Smart said. “I hate to see this continue in this neighborhood.”

Larry Johnson, GRPS chief of staff and executive director of Public Safety & School Security, said he and other members of the ad hoc committee have spent time listening to Black Hills residents and feel comfortable with their recommendation to demolish the building.

“We feel it’s the best decision to make, not only for the community but for the district,” Johnson said. 

Read more from Grand Rapids: 
Neighbors, board review Kensington proposals 
District moving forward with bond to reinvest in facilities

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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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