- people on the move
Entrepreneur invests $3M into Spring Lake
Kim VanKampen hopes to turn village into “epicurean” travel destination.
A major redevelopment of downtown Spring Lake is underway, with a member of the VanKampen family at the helm.
Kim VanKampen, who is related to the VanKampens who run Harvest Bible Chapel, has plans to turn the Village of Spring Lake into an “epicurean” travel destination.
“She had a vision of, instead of being a drive-through town, she wanted it to be a destination place,” said Sandi Gentry, associate broker/realtor with the Sandi Gentry Team Re/Max Lakeshore.
A Florida resident, VanKampen still feels a strong connection to Spring Lake, where she owns a summer home on the north side of town.
Gentry, who represents VanKampen, said she already has invested $3 million into the acquisition of six vacant buildings along Savidge and Jackson streets in the downtown area, the most recent one being 411 W. Savidge St., which she and VanKampen closed on early last week.
VanKampen has been working quickly since she purchased her first building near the end of last summer. She plans to convert the vacant properties into bars, restaurants, art venues and other mixed-use developments.
“She’s a very savvy business person,” Gentry said. “I’ve really enjoyed doing business with her.”
Michelle Hanks, village council member and local business owner, said she also is excited for VanKampen’s plans. She said, for the past couple of years, members of the community had been brainstorming about how to improve the image of Spring Lake.
“It’s difficult to hear people say about Spring Lake, ‘Oh, that’s what you drive through to get to Grand Rapids or to get to Grand Haven or Muskegon,’” she said. “A lot of this for a long time was done without the knowledge of what Kim was going to do. We have a lot of reinvigorated people who want to see the change that’s being made.”
Hanks, along with her husband, Gary, own Seven Steps Up, a local music venue at 116 S. Jackson St. near three of the six buildings VanKampen purchased. Hanks said she is excited about the potential economic impact the project will have on surrounding businesses, including her own.
“In all respects, I am extremely excited for our community as a result of what her vision is and what this means just in terms of economic development,” she said. “It kind of raises the bar and creates a possible momentum for other properties.”
Christine Burns, Spring Lake Village manager, said she also is looking forward to the future of the downtown area.
“Our population is 2,300,” she said. “For someone to make the financial investment that she’s made — $3 million-plus — what community does not want to see that?”
Currently, VanKampen does not have a set budget and has financed the project herself. She was not available for comment.