HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Construction is underway on the Hudson Center, the next phase in the creation of a new downtown Hudsonville.
While the groundbreaking was Thursday, the $4.2 million Hudson Center on Harvey Street is well on its way to completion. The three-story building will feature ground-floor retail, second-floor offices and third-floor apartments.
Developer Scott Geerlings said population numbers show the need for the project.
“The city of Hudsonville, I believe is 7,000 approximately. The greater area 65,000. There’s a tremendous amount of people here who need amenities like this, and I think this is a great beginning to downtown,” he said.
Hudson Center is an investment in a larger plan that Hudsonville Mayor Mark Northrup believes will transform his city.
“We’ve come back to our roots, that we need to live and work and enjoy the place, one place, and not race off to a mall,” Northrup said.
Hudsonville’s current business district developed along Chicago Drive. The divided roadway that at one time was the main north-south route between West Michigan and Indiana was built in the 1950s, resulting in a cultural shift for Hudsonville.
“We lost our identity. The downtown became what I call a drive-through city,” Northrup said.
City leaders are trying to change that. They intend to redevelop Harvey Street, making it into the new main street, with a mix of public investments like the Terra Square Farmer’s Market and Events Center and private endeavors like the Hudson Center. The plan is to connect similar buildings with the existing strip mall to the west, turning Harvey into a pedestrian-friendly roadway, a type of design known as a woonerf.
“A woonerf is a Dutch word for a mix-used street,” Northrup said. “We have all the amenities now starting to come back to a central area, where we can enjoy where we live.”
The city’s paid for the public improvements without raising taxes. $5 million in bond sales funded turning an old car dealership at Chicago Drive and Prospect Street into the Terra Square, as well as other infrastructure improvements. Northrup says space rental pays for the operation of Terra Square.
Hudson Center also received over $686,000 in Michigan Economic Development grants. The project is expected to create 27 full-time jobs.