A full city block just outside of downtown Holland has gone from a desolate property with empty high school and junior high buildings to what could soon be a thriving residential and commercial center featuring a linear park.
The block, bounded by W. 15th St. (north), S. River Avenue (east), W. 16th St. (south) and Pine Avenue (west), will soon have bragging rights to Midtown Village
, a complex of 30 new one- and two-bedroom senior apartments developed by Grand Rapids-based Dwelling Place
. The nonprofit housing organization has invested some $15M in renovation and development of the circa 1912 E. E. Fell Junior High School and will open it to the public on October 11.
The housing portion of the revitalization joins Jubilee Ministries
' earlier renovation of a former high school on the property into Midtown Center
, a commercial development where several nonprofits have office space, including Jubilee Ministries, Grand Rapids Community College
and Latin Americans United for Progress
Dwelling Place CEO Dennis Sturtevant says the development has been five years in the making and is consistent with a City of Holland visioning process and study called Center of Centers
"This whole block was middle and high schools for nearly 100 years," he says. "All the residential area surrounded the schools and was a focal point of the community. When the schools moved out in the 1960s, it created a dilemma for the city of what to do with these huge buildings that were functionally obsolete. The Center of Centers study is what we used as our template of how to use these buildings and for this linear park."
Construction has broken ground on Midtown Green, a proposed linear park with a bicycle and pedestrian pathway that crosses the green space and connects 15th and 16th streets. Sturtevant expects the park to open next spring and says Dwelling Place's Jenn Schaub is working with local artists to develop a vision for outdoor art in the space.
The final piece of the puzzle, a gymnasium building attached to the middle school, is for sale. Sturtevant says negotiations are underway with an undisclosed bidder.
Dedication ceremony: October 11, 11 a.m.
Public open house: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Source: Dennis Sturtevant, Dwelling Place
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Dwelling Place to transform old Holland middle school into $5.9M affordable housing community