Kirsten Runschke of local architectural firm Architektura recently presented four options to Grand Haven City Council for the depot. The options for the 3,600-square-foot space range from arrangements that included space for office, mercantile and food/drink vendors, to more open concepts that could contain flexible uses.
Based on a council discussion, officials noted that they were interested in seeing the depot split into space for an anchor tenant — around 900 square feet — and flexible space in the remaining 2,700 square feet.
“You’ve got five options that would fit nicely into something like that,” Runschke said.
Mayor Geri McCaleb said she likes the idea of having flexible interior space that is open to the public and a complement to the downtown.
“I’m concerned that if we give it to one entity, they’re going to take over the whole thing,” she said. “It’s not going to be a complement to the stadium. ... I think our three blocks of downtown would really benefit from another area for folks to go and wander.”
Also discussed was how to deal with access and opening up the building more to the waterfront.
“I think if we don’t open it up to the river, we’re missing an opportunity for a really awesome view,” McCaleb said. “I’d hate to lose out on an amazing view. ... We’ve got the best view in town, and maybe there’s way to do it.”
Some on City Council didn’t want to see too much alteration to the existing depot to open up the view to the river.
“The windows are existing now — it’s not like you can’t see outside of the building,” Councilman Bob Monetza said.
Monetza said he is concerned about how the potential of adding larger doorways into the building might affect its historic character.
“Hopefully, we can keep respecting the original facade of the building,” he said.
The existing window spaces could be used, or doors could be fit into the spaces the windows occupy, in order to provide a view to the river and stadium, Monetza said.
“The spaces those windows occupy, whether they’re windows or doors, doesn’t mess up the exterior of the building design or historic flavor,” he said. “I bet if you put in nice, clear windows, you’d have nice visibility.”
McGinnis said he would have architects bring back more refined versions of the depot plans in the coming weeks for the City Council to vote on. The plans will include how the space will be allocated inside the depot, plus how the exterior of the building would look with various window/door configurations.
A decision on how the space would be used would then allow the city to begin talking with interested tenants to find users to fill the depot location.