Shovels launch Epicurean Village

Marie Havenga • Jul 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — With the turn of a dozen shovels, the Epicurean Village project ceremoniously got underway Thursday morning.

Developer/entrepreneur Kim Van Kampen, Village of Spring Lake staff and council members, and many others gathered at the site just west of the Village Hall to welcome a new venture for Spring Lake.

The three buildings that once occupied the space were razed last month.

Van Kampen, a Florida resident who has summered at her family cottage on Spring Lake for decades, said the Epicurean Village will include a steak house, boutique, cafe/bakery and condos.

“We’ll be coming out soon with a steak house announcement,” she said Thursday. “It’s a prohibition-style steak house. It’s a local guy, a local chef with local sponsors. We’re finalizing all our contracts now. He has a great product and great vision for that space.”

The Sparrow Boutique, with a current location in Norton Shores, will also be housed at the Epicurean Village.

A bakery-style cafe is also part of the plan.

“It’s looking like it’s going to be a bakery/cafe with salads and quiches,” Van Kampen said.

Her original vision also includes a high-end kitchen store.

“That I’m still looking for,” she said. “I have other ideas for that space. I would prefer to bring in either a high-end kitchen store or small market with specialty items that would service the people living upstairs and people in the community.”

Van Kampen said she expects a soft opening for the Epicurean Village at this time next year, with a grand opening scheduled for August 2020.

“Everybody we’re getting as tenants are local people,” she said. “We’re not bringing in any big corporate companies. We’re not bringing in anything you’d find in a strip mall. It’s local people, people that this community already know, and I really like that. I like working with them. They know Spring Lake. They know what will work and what won’t.”

While the Epicurean Village is the hallmark piece, it’s not the only local project on Van Kampen’s plate. She purchased the former Lilly house, a Victorian home on Savidge Street, and plans to move it to the northwest corner of Exchange and Division streets. She recently purchased property there and razed two existing homes to make way for the Victorian, which will become a bed and breakfast and art gallery operated by long-time friends of Van Kampen’s from Florida.

“They have good connections with artists,” she said. “I think there will be a lot of interesting opportunities for the arts down on that end of the street.”

The house move is waiting on permits from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

VanKampen also purchased the former Citgo gas station building at 411 W. Savidge St. That will be the new home to Brooklyn Bagels, scheduled to open in October.

The former Bilz Pools & Spas building, 304 W. Savidge St., will be reopened as an antiques, gift and consignment store within the next year.

“I’m working with one of the big names from Ada who wants to come to Spring Lake and sees a great opportunity here,” Van Kampen said. “I’m actually going to be involved in that one, with my partner, Claudia Bryant, to create something really unusual around this part of the state.”

It’s clear this project is near and dear to Van Kampen’s heart. The store will be called Windermere House.

“We sat down and did an exercise on how to name a building and a business,” she said. “It has to have at least three links to something personal. ‘Windermere’ means ‘winding lake’ in Anglo-Saxon. That seemed to fit. It’s also the town my mother lives in in Florida. It’s also the name of Ernest Hemingway’s first cottage in Michigan.”

Van Kampen plans extensive remodeling and an addition to the Bilz structure.

“We’ll add on a little and do an amazing remodel,” she said. “You won’t recognize it. It will have kind of an English country design to the building. This area is known for antiques.”

Van Kampen said her love for, and history with Spring Lake, made her multi-million-dollar investment in the community a great fit.

“Since I was a little girl, going to Spring Lake was magical,” she said. “For the last 10 years, I’ve driven through the downtown and said, ‘How could it just stay like this, year after year, decade after decade?’ Some of these empty buildings were a risk to the community.

“I’ve had a few people, I think sour grapes, say, ‘Spring Lake is just a pass-through town,’” she added. “I say, ‘Oh, 7.5 million passes? We’ll take them. I’ll take every one of them. “

Dustin Hemmes, project manager for GDK Construction, said the actual construction will begin soon.

“We’re done going down,” Hemmes said of the recent excavation. “Now, we’re going up.”

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