HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Holland is considering a proposal to redevelop the waterfront near downtown. 

City Manager Keith Van Beek said connecting downtown Holland and the waterfront has been a wish from community members for several years.

“This has been discussion that the city and the community has thought about and dreamed about for a long time,” said Van Beek. “We wanted connectivity to the water, public access to the water. We wanted something that really added to the activities that were available to our citizens and our guests.”

The city went through a citizen engagement process called Waterfront Holland where they developed a vision and guiding principles for the project based on community input. From there, the city worked with consultants to find developers qualified to do the work. They found three firms who were able to send the city a proposal to redevelop the waterfront. By the January 2022 deadline, one firm sent a proposal, Geenen DeKock (GDK properties) of Holland, which has done previous work in the city.

“It is very early in the process yet, so there is not a lot of information to report, but we are very excited about the project. It has been a goal of our community for a long time to connect our beautiful downtown to the waterfront and we have a unique opportunity to make this happen,” said Doug DeKock with GDK in an email.

The city said part of the plan would mean Verplank Dock would be relocated to the decommissioned James DeYoung power plant. They say this would free up space at the end of 8th street for the waterfront redevelopment. Initial renderings of the redevelopment show public and commercial spaces.

“It has a marina that has not only private but public, what they call transient boat slips. It has a restaurant, ice cream store right on the water and a walkway continuously along the water,” Van Beek said of the initial drawings.

An image provided by the city of Holland shows the proposed site map for the waterfront redevelopment plan by GDK.

The proposal also includes a hotel and a place for cruise ships to dock in the lake.

While the plan is in the beginning stages, residents say they’re excited to see what comes of the project.

“I think it’s great. I think it’s really great because everybody loves the water and it’s going to put more people over there,” said Holland area resident Marie Brady.

Van Beek said the addition could transform the city.

“I think is just one more building block that just adds to the city of Holland,” said Van Beek.

The city said the next big step in the project would come in the summer when council will choose whether to recommend moving forward. From there, the project would go to the ballot for citizens to weigh in on because it involves transferring public waterfront property. Van Beek said if it’s approved by city residents, it would then go through the traditional process via the planning commission. He said because there are so many hurdles to cross before the project is green lit, there’s no specific timeline on when developers could break ground on the redevelopment.