The journey of our vision for a new community center has very humble beginnings! When our first community worker moved into the neighborhood, she began hosting neighborhood gatherings and small meetings out of her apartment. This worked well because in the early days, only a few people showed up! But after awhile, the numbers began to grow and the living room space was no longer sufficient.
For more space, neighborhood gatherings were moved to front yards….that is, until winter hit! In 2008, the Heights of Hope Board of Directors and community members decided it was time to begin to establish a more permanent presence in the neighborhood. A proposal was drafted that would allow the the rental of one two-bedroom apartment to be rezoned into a community center space. After successfully advocating, the City of Holland granted us a Conditional Use Zoning Permit for our little apartment at 457 Stratford Way.
Since 2008, this rented community center has been the home base for neighborhood meetings, classes, tutoring, fitness programs, potlucks, and a whole host of activities. While we are grateful to have inside space during the harsh winter months, the capacity of the current center is only 25 people…a limit we often quickly surpass. We have been blessed with gracious neighbors that allow us to share their front yard, garage stalls, parking lots, etc….but now we are very ready for a space that our community can truly call its own!
In 2012 we began a visioning process with neighbors, community stakeholders, and City officials to begin to outline our vision for purchasing a building and renovating it into a full community center. (see video below)
In 2014 the ideal property went up for sale, and we quickly were able to purchase 450 Stratford Way. We moved out of our rental unit and into the lower part of 450 Stratford, where we are operating bare bones out of until we raise the funds to complete the renovation.
The final community center will keep the upper two units rented and transform the bottom into a multipurpose community space.