An abandoned building in downtown Grand Rapids that has long been used by graffiti artists as a place to paint is in the process of being demolished. The building, located next to Rosa Parks Circle, became a popular place to paint as there was a minimal chance of getting in hassled by the police.
While graffiti artists can easily find another place to paint, the demolishment of the building is indicative of a larger and more serious problem with the development strategy currently being used in downtown. Rather than using old and abandoned buildings for social housing projects that could house downtown residents (both those currently living in homes and those who are not), buildings are being sold at low prices (frequently by the city) and renovated into upscale condominiums and restaurants that, by virtue of their cost, are not accessible to traditional residents of the downtown area. It should be noted that this particular building was demolished for a new art museum, and while that is ostensibly better than more condos, it is still a part of a development vision that wants to promote an upscale atmosphere in downtown. Moreover, the news media, specifically The Grand Rapids Press and IndulgeGR, champion this type of development for creating a “big-city atmosphere” downtown, while ignoring questions of accessibility and the desires of existing residents.
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