Hollands Second Time Around

March 23, 2007
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HOLLAND — After participating in one charrette in 2005, the city of Holland and Holland Township are giving one area another look.

Jon Mersman, planning and zoning administrator for HollandTownship, said the 2005 charrette focused on four areas, one of which was the Holland Gateway area that has been chosen as a 2007 West Michigan Regional Urban Design Charrette.

“This area was an area during that charrette we just couldn’t do adequate justice to, considering the time we had,” he said.

As the gateway to both Holland and HollandTownship, Mersman said the area has some traffic issues and revitalization potential, with residential and industrial areas.

The charrette site covers the area between

8th Street
and
Lincoln Avenue
, where there are neighborhoods in declining condition, congested roadways and 600,000 square feet of vacant industrial space.

“It just brought to the front that this would be an opportunity to coordinate or have a cooperative venture with the city of Holland,” Mersman said.

Mersman said the vacant industrial space, the former Hart & Cooley Co. building, has been acquired by experienced developers who will be active in the charrette process.

“We look at this just as a wonderful opportunity; the timing is right,” he said. “It’s an opportunity that will allow us to integrate those folks into the city of Holland and HollandTownship planning process.”

Mersman said the collaboration between the American Institute of Architects Grand Valley Chapter and the West Michigan Strategic Alliance is a good approach to helping the region.

“The Strategic Alliance is so big that it’s hard sometimes to get your arms around their vision, and to be able to focus in on smaller cooperative projects is a very effective way to accomplish the Strategic Alliance’s goals while yet accomplishing our local needs and addressing local problems,” he said. “I think it’s the most effective process and should really be utilized. I think it shows foresight on the part of the Strategic Alliance and significant energy provided by the AIA to accomplish goals.”

Mersman said he knows that not everyone can devote two-and-a-half days to a charrette, but he hopes that community members will stop by the charrette to see how the process works and to get a feel for it.

“Even if they can spend a half-hour just observing, I think it would be very beneficial to see not only the problem-solving, but to see the problem-solving process.”    

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