Eco-friendly dentist turns downtown Zeeland buildings into dental office, retail, and living space

Deborah Johnson Wood

Two side-by-side buildings in downtown Zeeland have been transformed into two boutique-sized retail spaces, a residential condo, and a new dental office suite for a new dental practice, Smedley Dental.

Meredith Smedley, D.D.S., who bills herself as an eco-friendly dentist, and her husband Shane, bought 131 and 133 E. Main Ave. with a plan to convert one building to her dental office, the other to retail. But those plans changed when they discovered that the front portion of both buildings had to be dedicated to retail.

"About two years ago, the city passed an ordinance that requires the front 40 percent of a building downtown to be retail space," says Abigail de Roo, city of Zeeland marketing director.

So Smedley and Grand Rapids architect David Maxam made new plans.

"We have two retail bays up front that we will eventually lease out," Smedley says. "We took the back portion of both buildings for the dental office. There are already two apartments upstairs and we will combine them and that's where my family and I will live." The Smedley's have two daughters, ages five and three.

This is Smedley's first solo practice, although she's been a dentist in Zeeland for over six years.

Her goal is to make the waiting room look and feel like a living room to help patients relax, and she also aims to run an eco-conscious business. Besides carpet and countertops made from recycled materials and the use of no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and adhesives, Smedley plans to use as many reusable dental products as possible, such as headrest covers and drinking cups.

She will also install special water filters that will filter out the mercury found in silver amalgam material used to fill cavities in teeth, and will let patients choose whether they want to use the amalgam or another less harmful filling material.

"We're trying to be as eco-friendly as possible," Smedley says. "We want to be comforting and nurturing and make the experience very different than a typical dentist office."

Source: Meredith Smedley, D.D.S, Smedley Dental; Abigail de Roo, City of Zeeland

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Development News tips can be sent to [email protected].
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