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holland proposes strip mall redesign

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City unveils South Shore Village proposal

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

By Myron Kukla

The Grand Rapids Press

HOLLAND -- An idea to turn an old strip mall on 16th Street into an upscale commercial area called South Shore Village was unveiled Tuesday by Holland city planners.

The plan calls for refacing about 20 businesses in the area between 16th and 17th streets near the Heinz factory with a seashore look. The neighborhood redesign also has the city installing brick pavers at the intersections, park benches, new street lighting, planters and landscaping.

The South Shore Village design was commissioned by the city and paid for with a $75,000 Community Development Block Grant . The city is interested in helping the four-block neighborhood commercial area go through urban renovation and become a destination shopping area for residents and visitors.

"I think this is a neat idea that would give the neighborhood a unique new character and look," said John Silva, owner of JP Gems and Jewelry on 16th Street.

"It would be good for the area because we have a little bit of everything, from jewelry stores and coffee shops to restaurants, and could certainly benefit from an improvement program," he said.

City Development Director Phil Meyer said the concept is in the first stage of development and needs the support of the neighborhood commercial sector to make it happen.

"This gives business owners a vision of what can be done to the buildings to make the whole area an attractive place to shop and visit," Meyer said. "We don't have a price tag yet ... but the owners and business people seem to be very enthusiastic about the plan."

Part of the plan proposes to acquire property from the neighboring Heinz factory to build a parking lot for shoppers and also provide access to Lake Macatawa and a boardwalk the city plans to build along the lake.

"The area is only about a block away from the lake, a marina and the future boardwalk," Meyer said.

Concept developer Peter Lazdins with the architectural firm Design Plus said the design pulls the neighborhood together in a unified look that is inviting.

"People just drive by the area now, but with a seaside look, landscaping and traffic calming installations, this could be a very beautiful commercial destination," Lazdins said during Tuesday's public unveiling at Maple Avenue Ministries.

Lazdins company also has designed a logo for the area with the name South Shore Village emblazoned over a setting sun, water and flying seagulls.

"I think this is a very ambitious and exciting plan," said Holland 3rd Ward Councilman Craig Rich, who grew up nearby and remembers riding down to the old commercial district on his bicycle to buy ice cream there.

"I like the idea of a seaside or lakeside village theme with an eclectic mix of storefronts," said Rich, noting that the design utilizes a mix of wood, vinyl, brick, glass and other materials.

Rich also is interested in the costs.

"It's easy to talk about buying land for a parking lot, but another thing to do it and maintain it without a parking assessment district with contributions from the local businesses," he said.

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