SPRING LAKE, Michigan — The groundbreaking looked like any other, but the energy surrounding a multi-million dollar development in the heart of downtown Thursday breathed new life into Spring Lake.

Village leaders kicked off construction of the Epicurean Village with a small ceremony. The $6 million project that will transform vacant downtown properties into a diverse town center.

The now-demolished properties, located next to the village office off M-104, will become restaurants, retail and residential spaces. 

"It's really a kickoff or catalyst project for what we're hoping to be redevelopment of a two block area as a new town center for spring lake," said Kim Van Kampen, the project developer. 

Van Kampen has purchased several properties downtown to be utilized in four different development projects, including the relocation of the Lilley Mansion. 

"What I'm seeing from Ms. Van Kampen and her family is a contribution that's going to be lasting and wonderful for this community," said Spring Lake Village President Mark Powers. 

Development of Epicurean Village is happening in conjunction with Spring Lake's first community art initiative, "Art in the Park." Artists Christi Dreese and Joel Schoon-Tanis started painting murals on two downtown buildings this month. 

"One of the things that public art does is that it suggests that [a space is] walkable," Schoon-Tanis said. "As more and more of these things pop up, along with the other improvements they're planning, I see this as being a sweet community that's going to have a different feel in a few years."

These developments are fitting together to put Spring Lake on the map, said Village Manager Christine Burns. 

"Our whole goal is to make Spring Lake a destination, not a drive-through community," Burns said. "A lot of people know about Spring Lake because they drive through on their way to Grand Haven, but we're going to give them a reason to stop."

Epicurean Village is expected to be complete next summer. 

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