From the Author
The Cherry Hill Historic District has it’s origins in the early 1990s as a revival of the old JHCCO block club (James, Henry, Charles Cherry Organization). After years of increasing blight signified by abandoned housing, ongoing drug activity and crime rate many property owners, some businesses and even tenants decided that if change for the better was to be achieved they would have to affect that change themselves. By targeting crime, contacting absentee landlords when problems arose with their properties and promoting home ownership through a series of affordable housing workshops the neighbors of Cherry Hill did, indeed, start affecting change for the better. This success was exemplified in 1993 by Cherry Hill winning a regional United Way “Golden Rule’ award for volunteerism. Soon after a core group of residents decided the best way to assure ongoing success was to work towards local historic district designation. That was achieved in 1994 and what started as a revival of an old block club had evolved into the Cherry Hill Historic District in just four short years.
In the early 2000s the historic district designation in the residential area began to fuel commercial reclamation by different investors in the adjoining blighted and boarded up retail areas. These included corridors along Wealthy Street to the south of Cherry Hill, and Cherry from Eastern Ave to Diamond to the east. However not all development was seen as progress. Individual retail and entertainment venue development took place with no real oversight, which resulted in higher density and traffic congestion. In early 2014 a new residential development was proposed for the former rehab campus at the corner of Cherry and Eastern. When the style of the development was presented and the density and added traffic it would cause was realized many in Cherry Hill fought hard to prevent the planned development through the Historic Preservation Commission. That continued fight was concluded in late 2017 with a compromise approved which included major site plan changes and exterior design makeover. As of the summer of 2018 that development has yet to break ground.
In the past 28 years there has a been a major transformation that has taken place in the area now known as the Cherry Hill Historic District; from a crime ridden, no-mans land to one of the more desirable areas to live in Grand Rapids. During that time almost all of the properties within the boundaries have changed hands three or four times. With each successive property owner less is known of the origins of Cherry Hill – just one generation ago. It is my hope that this website provides the background information to increase the awareness of Cherry Hill development and generate a level of appreciation for that development.
To the handful of original Cherry Hill founders still in residence I’m sure we’ll all remember with a smile our original byline by Margaret Mead..
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Co founder Cherry Hill Historic District