HOLLAND, Mich. - The renovated Holland Civic Center, paying homage to the historic old building, reopened Saturday morning to a crowd of eager Holland residents.

The $16.5 million project began in June of 2017. The front and north sides of the building were torn off, but the heart of the building was preserved, said Nathan Bocks, chair of the Civic Center Place Advisory Board.

“It has great bones,” Bocks said. “So the basketball court is about the same size as before. But we’ve added a new wing on the north side and a beautiful glass atrium on the east side.”

Conversations around revamping the center started 25 years ago, said U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, who attended the ribbon cutting.

“It had gotten a little worn around the edges, and the city had to figure out what it was going to do,” Huizenga said. “The community had to figure it out, and I'm glad that they decided to reinvest."

There is ample space to host anything from quinceañeras to corporate events, but it’s also meant for people to enjoy casually, Bocks said.

“They can come in here; they can sit and enjoy this beautiful lobby and have a cup of coffee [or] impromptu meeting,” he said. “Students can go up into the viewing tower and sit on the social stairs and do their homework.”

Holland Christian High School will play home basketball games at the Civic Center again starting in December. Emily Bolman, who’s lived in Holland her whole life, said she has great memories of coming to the games in the 50s.

“I think the whole city should be able to use it and enjoy what’s here,” Bolman said. “I see groups being able to get together for receptions and things that we didn’t have at the time, so it’s a wonderful, wonderful place.”

The developers of the building focused on honoring the old building by preserving some of the bleachers above a fireplace in the lobby and on the second floor overlooking the city. They also created a “memory wall,” serving as a small exhibit on the center’s past.

“Holland is a place that really values its roots,” said Nancy DeBoer, mayor of Holland. “And we know that we are standing on the shoulders of a lot of great people who worked hard, [were] innovative and worked with integrity to give us what we have today. And we really want to treasure that.”

The crowd held a moment of silence for Ruben Gomez-Vasques, a construction worker who died in a demolition accident on Aug. 1, 2017. A plaque honoring Gomez-Vasques is on the first floor of the building.

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