Redeveloping neighborhood a new concept for Tri-Cities

Becky Vargo • Apr 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM

FERRYSBURG — Old homes are being knocked down and new ones are springing up at a fast pace in at least one Tri-Cities-area neighborhood.

And while that’s been a trend in Holland for years — on the shores of Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan — it is relatively new for the Grand Haven area, according to Dale Zahn, chief executive officer of the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors. 

“It could be because of lack of inventory,” he said, “and the economy’s better.”

Zahn also noted that it takes a special buyer who has the money to buy something, tear it down and build something new.

Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger said permits were issued for 11 new single-family units in 2015 for a total value of about $2.1 million, and 12 more were issued last year for a value of about $2.9 million.

“We’re seeing redevelopment in areas of the city, especially along Spring Lake and Lake Michigan,” Bessinger said. “Some homes were seasonal or cottages. Some are being developed into permanent residences.”

Bessinger said the builds are translating into an increasing taxable value for the city.

In 2015, new home builds in Ferrysburg were in the Gables Condominiums on West Spring Lake Road (four); and one each on Dogwood Drive, North Shore Road, 168th Avenue, West Spring Lake Road and Williams Street. The last three involved knocking down existing residences and building new ones.

Last year, there were four more in the Gables; four in Roosevelt Ridge (near City Hall); and one each (all replacements) on North Shore, North Shore Estates, West Spring Lake Road and Williams.

Williams Street is in the Sunny Side neighborhood, which is northwest of the Smith’s Bayou Bridge. The streets in the neighborhood are a block long, connecting with West Spring Lake Road and Lakeview Street, which runs along Spring Lake.

During the past few years, several homes or cottages in the former resort neighborhood have been remodeled or torn down and rebuilt. Two or three of them, so far, will be on the 2017 permit list. Some of them are on the lake and some are not.

Most of the rebuilds in the neighborhood are associated with a boat lot on Spring Lake.

Tim and Julie Kuyt are part of that group of residents seeking a resort-type neighborhood with a family-friendly vibe. They bought and tore down a house on Williams Street before building a two-bedroom home in which they plan to stay for the rest of their lives.

“We’ve been pursuing this area for almost 20 years,” Tim said. “We tried to get that house across the street 20 years ago.”

“That house” — at the corner of Williams and Lakeview — was a cottage that sat empty for many years before the Kuyts were able to come up with an amount agreeable to the owners.

Plans to remodel it were not feasible because of foundation and termite damage, Julie said. So the house was torn down and a new one is under construction on the same footprint as the old one. 

The original plans were to use the house for guests, but costs went high enough that they decided to sell it to their daughter and her family. 

The Kuyts, who moved back from Florida to be closer to their children and grandchildren, bought a house two blocks over on Valley City. It was occupied by another daughter before she moved into her recently constructed home on West Spring Lake Road.

“We love the area,” Julie said, in a simple explanation of the attraction.

Tim noted that a lot of the houses or cottages in the area were built in the 1940s and early ‘50s, and were not built to meet today’s codes. 

“People moving into the area are looking at the prospect of upgrading,” he said.

The Kuyts, as well as their daughter, have been using local builder Adam Haas on their projects. Haas said he’s been doing a lot of remodels in the past few years, but new builds are taking off, as well, especially in Ferrysburg.

“I think this neighborhood, there’s bad houses but good area,” he said. “I think more of this is going to start happening.”

Haas said he also believes more people are being drawn back to the city, and replacing old houses will start to happen more there.

In the meantime, anyone looking for an already-built home has to move fast and possibly purchase high, according to Zahn.

“Fast sales — that’s what’s going on out there right now,” he said. “Price means almost nothing.”

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