The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan (USGBC-WM) Leadership Awards promote outstanding green building initiatives by recognizing projects, organizations, and people who have made extraordinary contributions to achieving healthy, energy-efficient green buildings in the state of Michigan. The Green Community Award recognizes exemplary projects that meet these qualifications and are advantageous to the development of their surrounding communities. The USGBC-WM was excited to announce Plaza Roosevelt as the Green Community Award Winner for their buildings at Suroeste Brilliants and Avenida Brilliant.
These buildings were constructed as part of a larger collaborative effort, the Plaza Roosevelt project. The partners on this project include Habitat for Humanity, Dwelling Place, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), Trinity Health Clinica, Hispanic Center of West Michigan, Ferris State University, Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, and Cook Arts Center. Partnership and collaboration were key to the construction of these buildings and the completion of the Plaza Roosevelt project overall. “These buildings would not have stood on their own [without this collaboration], well they would have stood on their own foundationally but you get what I mean,” said Chis Bennett, Director of Housing & Community Development at Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids.
Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids was originally selected to join Plaza Roosevelt initiative with Habitat of Humanity through a formal RP process. Plaza Roosevelt is an initiative to bring different types of housing to the neighborhood and Dwelling Place was selected to spearhead the multifamily element. To fund developments such as this Dwelling Place leverages low income housing tax credits. It is a competitive application process that is determined by a point incentive program where different points are earned for things such as proximity to downtown, public transportation access, and so on. The location and style of the buildings were informed through a community engagement process that had already been underway. The projects did not originally get funded when submitted in an application for low income housing tax credits. They then applied again under a special category called Strategic Investment, which leverages the partnerships and investments of broader initiative as a whole and received funding. It is due to this larger collaborative effort that these individual projects received funding. The total development cost for two twenty-four unit apartment buildings was just over $16 million. One obstacle was the administration of the project through a global pandemic. Dwelling Place notes that they were lucky to have strong partners - Wolverine as the general contractor and Progressive AE as the general architect - and relationships with these partners that allowed them to keep moving forward during this time. They note that they were also very fortunate to have ordered the bigger leading items ahead of time, before the delays really came into fruition. But the difficulties still presented themselves in managing construction along with safety protocols and new occupancy regulations during this time. They were still able to successfully finish the projects almost right on time through all of this.
The buildings in this project achieved LEED Silver status. Dwelling Place, as a continued goal, always aims for as high of a certification as can be achieved, differing a bit depending on project cost, complexity of the building, and other considerations. Additionally they were able to find an investor for solar credits to add rooftop solar units, which covers the common electrical usage, including ventilation for the underground parking. Most important to Dwelling Place though is to work directly with the community and with the neighbors. They consider their affordable housing as a “buttress against gentrification” and a foothold to make sure at least some amount of housing in the neighborhood is affordable. An emphasis of theirs is to see the people in these neighborhoods they build in enjoy these benefits as much as possible, which they do by working with neighborhood associations and everyone involved, as best as they can in still aligning with fair housing law. “Everyone who lives there becomes part of the neighborhood,” said Chis Bennett, Director of Housing & Community Development at Dwelling Place, “so we try to make sure we’re being mindful of that.”
“Our built environment should be a conduit to our wellness and vitality. In most cases, an employer's largest operating cost is its people,” said Cheri Holman, Executive Director of USGBC-WM. “Investing in those people by providing them with an indoor environment that is safe, comfortable, and inspiring is a key way to attract and retain a flourishing workforce.”
Plaza Roosevelt was honored at our 2022 Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony on December 8, 2022. Hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan, the evening event was held in the Ballroom at the LEED-certified CityFlatsHotel located in downtown Grand Rapids. The program included a keynote address by Jeremy Orr, Director of Litigation and Advocacy Partnerships for Earthjustice, an Awards Ceremony, and the introduction of our new Board of Directors nominees.
To learn more about their accomplishments and to read our 2022 Annual Report visit our Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony page.