City of Hudsonville
The City of Hudsonville – pop. 7,116 – recently completed a one-of-a-kind redevelopment project that is sparking excitement, attracting creative class talent, drawing new private investments, and spurring the much-needed revitalization of our downtown.
Say hello to Terra Square, the city’s freshest, multi-purpose community venue that gives placemaking a whole new meaning. The building features four distinct community spaces; an Indoor/Outdoor Farmers Market Space (we are “The Salad Bowl City” after all); a Gathering Space available for private gatherings or business events; a Co-Work Space where small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs can create together; and Sonder Provisions, a privately operated farm-to-table restaurant space. The facility is an adaptive reuse of an old Chevrolet dealership building from the 1950s. It sits at the terminus of the new Harvey Street woonerf, a European-themed living street designed with the pedestrian in mind.
Many communities have renovated old buildings, but what makes Terra Square truly unique is its genesis through an extensive community input process.
This process began in 2005 when Ottawa County and the City of Hudsonville partnered on the implementation of the “Urban Smart Growth Demonstration Project”.
The purpose of this project was to demonstrate
that through quality design and smart place making principles, cities like Hudsonville would have the ability to once again attract and retain residents who choose to live in cities that offered such amenities. Over the next ten years, Hudsonville would create an Architectural Design Elements Portfolio
, a Downtown Master Plan
, and a Downtown Zoning Ordinance
. And throughout each of these projects, extensive community input was sought.
In 2015, when the award-winning Imagine Hudsonville 2030 Plan
was finally completed, it represented the culmination of over 10 years of business and resident input. The plan establishes four overarching goals for the city to strive for – that by the year 2030, Hudsonville will be a more distinctive city, a more livable city, a more vibrant city, and a more connected city. It was truly a community-driven vision
. From this input, planners became keenly aware that Hudsonville was a community with deeply rooted ties to its agrarian past, but with a proactive eye towards the future. This made the adaptive reuse of an historic building into a new farmers market, farm-to-table restaurant, event space and co-work space the perfect project to begin implementing Hudsonville’s new vision.
In terms of prioritization, the Terra Square project rose to the top of the list after a community preference survey showed that 91.7% of surveyed residents identified the “creation of a permanent farmers market” as “somewhat” to “very important”. The survey included the development of several mobile kiosks that illustrated and described the goals of the Imagine Hudsonville 2030 Plan
, and asked resident to rank their preferences. These kiosk were rotated to various businesses throughout town, as well as the schools.
Terra Square, a $2.6 Million investment in our downtown, represents the first of five quality of life enhancement projects
that the city is currently undertaking. These include the extension and conversion of Harvey Street to create a walkable, shared connective corridor known as a “woonerf”
that will run through the core of Hudsonville’s downtown. The beautification of Chicago Dr., and streetscape enhancements to Service Rd. are also underway, as are our efforts extend a non-motorized pathway connection under Chicago Dr. and the railroad, just east of Terra Square.
The primary funding source for these projects was a $4.6 million dollar bond that the city issued late last year. The bond issuance was strategically timed with the payoff of our city hall and library building so that it would not result in any increase to the overall tax millage rate. The city plans to have all of these enhancement projects completed by the end of 2018 or early 2019. We hope that they will add recognizable value to the community, and will spark new private investments in our downtown.
Creativity and Originality:
What makes Terra Square truly original is that it is a multi-use space that was driven by community input and support. The original objective of the project was to create a permanent home for the farmers market. However as ideas were exchanged and the project evolved, the use and layout of the building transformed to better suit the needs of the community and reflect the vision of the master plan. This multi-faceted approach creates a higher degree of sustainability to the project due to multiple revenue sources, adds sources of traffic and exposure for the market and other uses, and creates a space that each resident and business can interact with in the way they desire.
Perhaps what is most ironic about the Terra Square story is that it is a building that was originally designed for the automobile, in a city that was redesigned in the 1950s around the car… which has now been repurposed into a space that is designed for people, in a city we are redesigning around the pedestrian.
There is no question the impact of this project has been substantial.
Tangibly, there has been a significant increase in private investment interest in downtown Hudsonville. As a result of this project, the Hudsonville Winery/Pike 51 brewery has decided to relocate and build a full-scale restaurant and brewpub/winery just a block east of Terra Square. In addition, a private developer is planning to construct a new a mixed-use, two story building directly adjacent to Terra Square. The new building will meet the city’s new architectural standards and will feature multiple restaurants, retail, offices, and upper floor residential units. Both of these projects are expected to break ground this summer. Pizza Ranch also recently underwent a $1.5 million remodel just a few blocks from the project. We are also seeing nearby businesses begin to fix up their facades or otherwise improve their properties.
In addition to these investments, the City now gets calls regularly from people looking for an opportunity to grow their business or invest in downtown Hudsonville. Prior to the public investment in Terra Square, there was little interest from private investors in downtown. Terra Square has made all the difference in spurring these private investments and creating a sense of place in our community. The city’s hope was that our public investments would be followed by private investments. There is no doubt we are now seeing this happen.
In terms of community support, a local fundraising effort for Terra Square generated over $180,000 in donations from residents, local businesses, service organizations, local foundation and regional employers. The purpose of the fundraising effort was twofold. First, it would provide an opportunity for members of the community to participate and have a stake in what would be a tremendous community asset that they could use and be proud of. Second, it would enable the city to restore and outfit the building at a higher level of quality and with finer amenities than the city’s original budget afforded. It is noted that no crowdfunding match dollars were received through MEDC. Ironically, this is because Hudsonville is not currently eligible for this program due to its lack of a "traditional downtown".
On June 3, 2017, over 2,700 people came out for the ribbon cutting ceremony and to help launch the farmers market. By that time, every membership in the co-work space had been sold and there is currently a waiting list to get in. The farmers market added a Saturday market (they now have now two a week), and we have nearly doubled the number of vendors. When polled, the vendors are all thrilled with the amount of foot traffic they are seeing. And weddings, graduation open houses, birthday parties and corporate training events continue to book the event space in Terra Square. This is on top of the community programming that goes on in the space, such as yoga, community movie nights, and art classes. The new farm-to-table restaurant, called Sonder Provisions, is scheduled to open in Terra Square this August.