Zeeland’s popular Public restaurant is returning to become the literal center of the city’s downtown.
It is one piece of a larger development project city leaders have been dreaming of since 2009.
“It really nailed all of those needs that were unaddressed,” Zeeland Marketing Director Abby deRoo says. “This is one of those projects that just kept getting better the longer we nurtured it.”
The $3 million project, located precisely in the middle of downtown Zeeland, achieves multiple city goals, deRoo says, such as establishing a mid-block pedestrian passageway to connect Main Avenue to the municipal parking lot to the north, encouraging infill building development, increasing downtown residential units, and reserving ground floor units, with prime frontage, for strong restaurant and retail tenants.
A new thre-story building and passageway project in Zeeland will be the center of the city's downtown. The developer is in the process of obtaining final state and city approval.
In addition to the commercial space, the new building will contain a total of eight, two bedroom one bathroom apartment units on the second and third floors.
It is estimated the three-story, mixed-use development and pedestrian passageway in the center of downtown Zeeland will be open 2024.
City leaders have had their eye on the site since the 2009 Downtown Zeeland Vision Plan. Last spring, the city accepted and approved a proposal from Wooden Nickel LLC., led by Steve Sterken. The city and developer teams have been working together over the past year to prepare a purchase and development agreement, which was approved by Zeeland City Council earlier this month.
The city commissioned a 2019 study to focus specifically on a public passageway and the redevelopment of 135/137 E. Main Ave.
The development will be constructed to complement and connect the properties at 131 and 133 E. Main Ave.
The development will be constructed to complement and connect the properties at 131 and 133 E. Main Ave., also represented by Sterken. Connecting the properties provides the opportunity to meet the growth needs of current tenant, Dr. Meredith Smedley, of Moxy Dental and Airway. Dr. Smedley’s dental office has been located at 133 ½ E. Main Ave. for 12 years. The project will provide a 2,400-square-foot expansion for the growing business.
This dynamic project also includes the highly anticipated return of Public Restaurant, owned by Lucas Grill of 1983 Restaurants. Grill opened Public, his original restaurant, in 2012 at 131 E. Main and it was immediately cherished by the community, city officials say. The restaurant closed in 2021. Though Grill has some new tricks up his sleeve, Public will return with the same handcrafted comfort food that the community has known, loved, and most recently, missed.
The city commissioned a 2019 study to focus specifically on a public passageway and the redevelopment of 135/137 E. Main Ave. The developer is in the process of obtaining final state and city approval.
DeRoo hopes the jewel in the center of the crown will encourage other property owners to make their own improvements as well.
The city purchased the property a year ago and issued a request for proposals to attract an investor to redevelop this site.
The project will include demolishing the existing one-story buildings to prepare for the new three-story building and pedestrian passageway to the east of the development.
With the purchase and development agreement approved, the developer can now begin to prepare the site for demolition and construction, apply to the state of Michigan for financial incentives, and seek site plan and design approvals from the city.