Midtown Adds To Holland's Revitalization

April 28, 2008
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Jubilee Ministries intends to revamp two former public school buildings in downtown Holland and turn the predominantly concrete campus they share into a walking-friendly, park-like community gathering space called Midtown Campus.

The former Holland High School at 96 W. 15th St. will become the Midtown Center and will house offices and meeting space for as many as eight nonprofit groups. Curt Busch, CEO of Jubilee Ministries, said his organization is having conversations with eight nonprofits and is looking for a couple of other organizations that might be interested in leasing space in the 58,000-square-foot building.

As of early April, Latin Americans United for Progress, Real Life Fellowship and Midtown Counseling Services had signed letters of intent to lease. The building will serve as Jubilee Ministries’ headquarters, as well.

“The vision was to have a collaborative effort where a lot of nonprofits working in the central city of Holland could share resources, could possibly share equipment, and certainly build off of each other’s already-ongoing activity.”

Jubilee liked the idea of combining nonprofit activity with neighborhood revitalization efforts.

“We thought if we could reinvigorate and revitalize the block, we could create some new opportunities that would serve the community well, and, hopefully, become a catalyst for some more urban redevelopment,” Busch said.

Jubilee Ministries awarded the Midtown Center construction contract to Elzinga Volkers Construction Services of Holland. The firm hopes to vie for the Midtown Village contract, as well, said Jeff Baxter, vice president of Elzinga Volkers. 

Mat Wedeven, project manager on the Midtown Center project, said Elzinga Volkers will primarily be doing restoration work, such as upgrading electrical, HVAC and fire protection systems, installing an elevator, putting in new ceilings, painting, trim work and other face-lift type repairs.

“We’re basically bringing the building back into code compliance, doing some deferred maintenance, as well as improving it for a multi-tenant use,” Baxter said.

Tony Roussui, director of operations, said the renovation will take about six months.

The former Holland Junior High School will become Midtown Village, a 26-unit apartment complex for low- and moderate-income seniors. The building is about 60,000 square feet, of which 10,000 is being set aside for a different application, Busch said. The complex will feature communal gathering space, a small kitchen, an activity room, new elevators and a rooftop garden.

Hooker DeJong Architects & Engineers are the architects for both projects. Both buildings will be brought up to LEED certification standards and their internal and external historical features will be maintained to the extent possible, said President David Layman.  

“What we find, particularly in the adaptive reuse renovations for housing, is that the end product has some intrinsic character that can’t be recreated in the same way anymore,” Layman said. “There are some real neat features to older buildings that make the marketability of the units much higher than some of the new construction you see these days.”

The estimated cost of the two projects is $13 million, of which about two-thirds will be funded through state and federal housing grants, incentives and tax credits, including brownfield and historical tax credits, Busch said. As the principal fund-raiser, Jubilee has to raise $4.3 million in philanthropy for the projects. As of early April, the ministry had raised a little over $2 million.

Dwelling Place in Grand Rapids is pulling together all the pieces of the federal and state funding pie. It is also the lead partner in the Midtown Village project and will serve as its development director. Once the various grant incentives and tax credits are accounted for, Gathering Place will solicit for bids on the Midtown Village portion of the project. Busch said he doesn’t expect work to start on Midtown Village until this fall. CQX

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