City names $2M donors for arena redevelopment


A conceptual rendering of the redeveloped Holland Civic Center. Courtesy city of Holland

After months of anonymity, a city in the region has named the couple who donated $2 million to redevelop an iconic structure in its downtown.

The city of Holland said today that James and Eileen Heeringa were the anonymous donors who committed $2 million last summer toward the redevelopment and design project for the Holland Civic Center and surrounding property, located at 50 W. 9th St.

The project has recently become known as Holland Civic Center Place.

The multi-purpose arena has 2,700 seats and originally opened its doors in 1954.


The Heeringas are residents of Park Township and wanted to honor James’ late parents, George and Lucile Heeringa, through the $2-million lead gift toward the project.

While both his parents had ties to the Holland community and graduated from Hope College, George Heeringa was also active in athletics while attending Hope.

Due to the couple’s generosity, the renovated civic center will be named in honor of George and Lucile Heeringa during a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for mid 2018.

Holland Mayor Nancy DeBoer, who made the announcement today during the Juke VanOss morning talk show on WHTC radio, said future generations will benefit from the extraordinary gift.

“We are extremely grateful for Mr. and Mrs. Jim and Eileen Heeringa for their generosity in support of the Holland Civic Center Place,” DeBoer said. “We welcome George and Lucile’s names on this renovation.”

Jim Heeringa was co-owner of the Holland-based furniture maker Trendway until his retirement in the early 1990s and used to play basketball in the civic center. He also recently contributed to Hope College’s new VandePoel-Heeringa Stadium Courts with his brother, Don Heeringa.

Beth Blanton, public information coordinator for the city of Holland, said when the Heeringas originally decided to donate to the project last June, they wanted to stay anonymous indefinitely. However, during the last couple of months, they wanted to go public.

The $2-million gift will be received annually in three equal parts, with the first contribution beginning last December.

Project details

The redevelopment project for the Holland Civic Center encompasses two full city blocks to the east and north of the center.

The renovation of the facility and surrounding area is intended to develop a multi-purpose community space supporting meeting spaces, recreational activities, the Holland Farmers Market and public events.

After the initial proposal for a roughly $11-million project last June, the city of Holland initiated a comprehensive design review process last October with multiple stakeholders.

Ryan Cotton, city manager for Holland, said the public’s participation in “making this building the best it can be for future renovations and for decades to come is most welcomed.”

Next steps

The city is continuing to hold a series of public meetings until mid March 2016.

Based on input from the community and a steering committee, a recommendation will be presented to the City Council for the design of the project on March 16 at 7 p.m.

“The next steps are the public meetings that we have scheduled,” Blanton said. “What we are doing now is trying to get a sense of the direction in terms of the design. We have hired Edgewater Resources as the third-party that is facilitating the process.”

Edgewater Resources is the lead design firm and is working in partnership with GMB Architecture + Engineering, Livable Communities by Design, Project for Public Spaces and Walker Parking Consultants.

With $2 million raised to date, the city plans to conduct “parallel processes” to secure roughly $9 million more in financial support.

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