Madison Square Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., is working with a local nonprofit organization to redevelop the building that was the original home of Grand Rapids Christian High School—creating both worship space and contributing to affordable housing in the community.
Dubbed the “415 Franklin Project,” named for the building’s address, plans call for the redevelopment of the 72,000-square-foot building to include 40 low-income apartments on the upper two floors and a worship center on the main floor. Project director Layla Kuhl said the building, originally built in the 1920s, was donated to the church in 2015 by developer Ed DeVries. He based his gift on wanting to see it redeveloped as a Christ-centered building and community resource.
“For the last three years, we’ve been talking with a lot of organizations, talking to neighbors, doing grassroots work [in determining] what would benefit the community, what their needs and aspirations [for the site] are,” Kuhl said.
The building was home to Christian High School until the late 1970s, and then served as headquarters for the Kent County Department of Human Services until 2009. It has been vacant ever since.
Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), a nonprofit housing organization, is taking the lead on the housing portion of the project, having already secured state-allocated tax credits to finance construction. Rent for the apartments will be based on tenant income levels, Kuhl said.