VanKampen closed on the purchase of the property this week.
Although they won't disclose who they are in negotiations with, VanKampen's real estate agent, Sandi Gentry from the Sandi Gentry Team ReMax Lakeshore, said it likely will be “a very welcomed” business that would benefit local residents and visitors.
Gentry said it's likely VanKampen will raze the Citgo station. Although she did not know how long the station has been closed, village water records indicate there has been no significant usage there since October 2010.
VanKampen will give Clipper's Hair Salon — a longtime tenant in the back of the gas station building — ample time to find another location and move out, according to Gentry.
“We do have plans for it, but we can't disclose the plans yet,” Gentry said. “... If word gets out before everything is finalized, they could back away because there are several sites they're considering. That's why we have to be so careful. It's something we're trying to promote and bring in, not them.”
VanKampen also has purchased the buildings immediately west of Village Hall on Savidge Street, up to and including the former Phoenix Deli Cafe, which has been closed for 15 years. She also recently purchased the commercial building at 109 Jackson St., known as the Haight Professional Building. And she has one more property on Savidge Street that she plans to purchase soon.
The end-use for 109 Jackson St. is unknown at this time.
“It could be condos,” Gentry said. “We're concerned about parking. Somebody wanted it for retail.”
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VanKampen's vision for her downtown Spring Lake project is an Epicurean (refined taste) village. She plans an upscale, destination restaurant in the brick two-story building adjacent to Village Hall, with a cafe and retail (a potential kitchen supply store with cooking classes similar to Sur La Table) in the other buildings, with condominiums on the upper level. The buildings would have entrances on both Savidge Street and the parking lot to the south.
VanKampen envisions a “town center” atmosphere in the parking area, which could hold festivals, concerts and more. She is considering heating the parking lot. The Dollar General store would stay.
Gentry said the 109 Jackson St. property would tie into the Epicurean village project, but likely would not be used for offices.
“It's so exciting,” Gentry said. “She's very driven toward making it a destination. She has incredible ideas. She is going to bring what even Grand Haven doesn't have. One of the restaurants she was looking at has a big wine cellar. We have some cobblestones in the basements, just a lot of really unique things.”
Because VanKampen plans to renovate the existing buildings next to Village Hall, she will not need approval from the Village Planning Commission or Village Council.
VanKampen, who is working with a local architect and construction company, expects to have renderings completed in the next couple of weeks.
“She's full-steam ahead,” Gentry said. “This project is going to put Spring Lake on the map and it will be a destination place.”
The project will be “aesthetically pleasing,” Gentry added.
VanKampen has indicated she wants to retain the “small-town village charm” and historic nature of the buildings.
“The restaurant will definitely be someplace that you want to go because it will be good food,” Gentry said. “It will be a good venue with entertainment, kind of everything. People from Grand Rapids don't come here in the wintertime. There's no reason to come here. We want to make it a reason to drive out to the Lakeshore, for it to be year-round instead of just a summer place. It will be a landmark restaurant.”
Gentry said VanKampen is being careful not to compete with existing Spring Lake venues.
“She's trying to look at what the village offers already and she's trying to complement what's there,” Gentry said.
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