Food Innovation District


Holland’s PlacePlan focused on the Western Gateway to its downtown, which includes the farmer’s market and civic center building. Development of this area has the potential to extend the downtown district west along 8th St., linking it to the Lake Macatawa waterfront. The Holland project engaged downtown business owners as well as local food producers, distributors, and buyers from around the area to explore a concept for a new, unique district, with a particular opportunity to elevate the area’s food industry as both a vital manufacturing niche and a key tourism asset. The Western Gateway PlacePlan, delivered in September 2014, outlined a strategy for creating a “food innovation district” as one option for the Western Gateway area, and identified opportunities for new business growth in and around downtown Holland through completion of a retail market analysis.  Finally, the plan included a range of recommendations to build on Holland’s existing cultural, economic, and environmental assets to strengthen the downtown as a whole.

Since report delivery, Holland has capitalized on the information and strategy contained in the PlacePlan, and finds itself on the cusp of two exciting place-based downtown developments directly influenced by the process. Firstly, a local developer is now moving forward on a block-long redevelopment project encompassing a key portion of W. 8th St. which connects the city’s existing commercial core to the farmer’s market and civic center area. A combination of renovations and infill construction will, over five years, transform the southern side of W. 8th St. between S. River Ave. and Pine Ave. giving it a continuous frontage of mixed-use buildings that are compatible in design and scale with those further east. The first phase includes renovation of a portion of the existing, historic Holland Sentinel building and new construction on a neighboring site. The total development will provide 60-100 residential units when complete, with 16 units scheduled to be ready in 2016. Retail and restaurant space will be provided on the ground floor. The city and developer credit the information and analysis contained in the PlacePlan, as well as a subsequent Target Market Analysis (TMA) of downtown Holland’s potential residential demand suggested as a Key Action Area therein, with helping to make the decision to proceed with this project.

Secondly, movement is progressing on a vision for the future of the farmer’s market and civic center site itself. The city is in the midst of a planning and design process for the area led by a team of local and national consultants. The final plan, expected in spring 2016, will address the renovation of the Civic Center building, the redesign of the farmer’s market facility, as well as the programming and activities to take place on the site. These two key developments are a major step in the Western Gateway project, and were both aided greatly by the information contained in the PlacePlan and the community engagement process it brought to the city.


Mark Vanderploeg, City Planner, City of Holland, 616.355.1494

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