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Village planners OK Van Kampen plans

Marie Havenga • Sep 26, 2018 at 7:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — It took the Spring Lake Village Planning Commission less than an hour to approve the site plan and special use permit required to send Kim Van Kampen's Epicurean Village development plan to the next level.

Nearly 100 residents filled Barber School to see site plans and elevations of the three buildings west of Village Hall in what could be one of the largest downtown redevelopments in Spring Lake history.

Professionals from Grand Rapids-based Progressive AE, who have been working with Van Kampen since March, made Tuesday's presentation on her behalf.

The developer’s plans call for 28,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and residential space, with one restaurant, three retail spaces, a bakery, and five or six residences per floor, including a possible roof terrace.

Although the plans received unanimous support from the Planning Commission, the developer team will still have to clear up some issues with local and state officials.

Because the plans call for balconies and awnings that overhang the Michigan Department of Transportation right of way to the north and village property to the east, the developers will need permission to continue with those amenities.

Also, Village Council and Van Kampen will have to come to an agreement on a 3-foot gap between Village Hall and 106 E. Savidge St. Ideally, the developers would come to terms on the half the village owns (1.5 feet) and incorporate it into the project.

Parking appeared to be the biggest concern from a handful of residents who spoke at Tuesday's public hearing, and also from several planning commissioners.

The village-owned parking lot between the buildings and Dollar General/French Academy would be the main parking area for the Epicurean Village customers. However, if more space is needed, the empty lot where the Spring Lake Township Hall once stood could provide overflow parking.

Village leaders and the developers are charged with coming up with a parking plan.

Planning Commission Chairman Dave Kaucheck said he is concerned that if the village provides parking for the project, the next person who opens a business downtown may expect the same. He said he fears setting a precedent.

Commissioner Eric Johnson encouraged the developers to stay in close contact with community members and officials.

“I like the initial design, but I'd like to keep communication and collaboration open so the community, Planning Commission and (Village) Council are up to speed on some of the things being proposed,” he said. “The parking is definitely an issue. Safety is really key in our community. But it really looks good and it's exciting.”

Commissioner Chip Bohnhoff said he's also excited to see the Epicurean Village become a reality.

“As somebody who lives downtown, I think this is amazing,” he said. “Parking is going to be a struggle, especially during peak times.”

Although no specific tenants have been named for the development, Van Kampen has said in the past that she envisions a high-end kitchen store, a bakery/coffee shop and a landmark restaurant.

She plans to maintain the facade of the building immediately west of the Village Hall. That building will become a two-story restaurant with rooftop dining.

The next two buildings to the west, including the former Phoenix Deli Cafe/Braak's Bakery building, will be replaced with more modern-looking structures that will likely house a cafe and retail store, with condominiums above.

Because of proposed residential uses on the upper floors, the project required the special use permit that planning commissioners approved Tuesday night.

Village Planner Jennifer Howland said the former uses of the buildings required 74 parking spaces, all provided in the public parking area. Van Kampen's plans require 98 spaces.

Village President Mark Powers, who spoke at Tuesday's public hearing in support of the project, said he is pleased with the commission's decision.

“I think it was the right one,” he said. “I think they took a proper and fair look at the project and voted how they felt. I think the process was good. I look forward to the next steps in the process. I sure hope it brings ... new businesses, new residents and new vibrancy to downtown.”

Van Kampen, a Florida resident whose family has owned summer homes on Spring Lake for more than six decades, has spent more than $3 million on property acquisition in the village. She has also purchased the former Citgo gas station, Bilz Pool and Spas building, and the Haight Building. Those buildings are expected to be redeveloped or repurposed after the Epicuean Village development is completed, which Van Kampen said she hopes is in 2020.

To view site project drawings and floor plans, visit www.epicureanvillage.com.

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