SPRING LAKE — Developer Kim VanKampen, who is pumping millions of dollars and vitality into the Village with new restaurants, retail and residential projects, has offered to donate a downtown property valued at more than $400,000 to the Village of Spring Lake.
Council is expected to decide at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Barber School, whether or not to accept the Haight Building, 109 S. Jackson St.
“I think it’s extremely generous,” said Spring Lake Village Manager Chris Burns. “It’s not every day somebody comes to you and says ‘we want to invest millions of dollars in your downtown, and by the way, ‘there’s this piece of property you could develop and turn into something positive.’ It’s very generous of her.”
VanKampen purchased the former office building in October of 2017 for $310,000. The property is currently valued at $434,000, according to Spring Lake Township assessing records.
Acting proactively, Village leaders recently sent out requests for proposals seeking redevelopment of the 5,000-plus-square-foot building, which was built in 1990.
VanKampen had originally planned to raze the two-story Haight Building, which has been vacant more than five years, and use the space as part of a “promenade” corridor through the downtown area that she’s focused on redeveloping.
But as plans progressed, VanKampen nixed that idea, and asked Village officials to consider a new and higher use for the Tanglefoot Park RV Park, according to Burns.
The Haight Building donation is intended to offset money the Village receives from Tanglefoot Park campground rental fees, as well as to offset expenditures the Village intends to make for the municipal parking lot near Epicurean Village.
The Village nets $30,000 to $40,000 annually from the RV park, according to Burns. The park sat vacant this season due to Exchange Street and sewer main construction and in any given year, sat vacant during non-camping months, typically October through April.
The Thum family, who invented Tanglefoot sticky fly paper, donated the waterfront parcel on the Grand River to Spring Lake Village many years ago, with the deed restriction that it be used for public purposes.
“She (VanKampen) has secured some donations for the redevelopment of that park,” Burns said.
Village officials hosted a “community engagement” meeting at Seven Steps Up earlier this summer to get public input on potential new plans for Tanglefoot and Mill Point parks.
“The community engagement meeting indicated the vast majority of people support redevelopment of that property and opening it up to the public,” Burns said.
A public year-round building that could be used for an indoor farmer’s market, weddings, showers, family reunions and the like is part of the plan.
Council is also expected to decide at its Monday meeting whether or not to authorize $8,000 for a design/engineering and market feasibility study by Progressive AE to see if it’s even financially realistic to change the use of Tanglefoot Park.
If cost estimates are doable, Burns said plans could include constructing a pavilion, reworking the docks and improving water access at Tanglefoot Park.
“It would be a usable space we could rent out for a variety of things,” Burns said. “We could host things like an art walk, craft market ... It could be used year-round.”
If ideas some to fruition the park project wouldn’t begin until at least 2021.
“Our intent would be to apply for a DNR Trust Fund grant in April of 2020,” she said. “They don’t award those until the fall and funds are released after that. For construction to start or anything to happen, it would be 2021.”
Burns said no matter what happens with Tanglefoot and Mill Point parks, it will be great to redevelop the Haight building.
“I’d like to see it not be vacant anymore,” she said. “It would be great to have office or retail on the first floor. We’d love to do something with Housing Next (an organization promoting work-force housing in Ottawa County). In a perfect world, that would be great. Whether or not we get any proposals that address the work-force housing shortage, I don’t know. As long as it’s not vacant it will be a better use than it is right now.”I think it will be a win.”
Burns said the Haight Building is just “one more piece of the puzzle” of the downtown redevelopment.
“The fact that she trusts us to do something positive with it is nice, too,” Burns said. “‘No strings attached,’ she said. We have a lot of leeway in that regard. I don’t know of any community that wouldn’t want this. It’s obviously very exciting. We’re looking forward to those proposals coming in and reviewing those and selecting the highest and best use for that building.”