HOLLAND TWP. — Imagine waking up inside a miniature replica of Big Red. That’s the experience Russ Shilander is hoping to give a select number of Holland tourists in the coming years.
Hollanders often wonder about the lighthouse at 390 Douglas Ave. Where did it come from? Why is it there?
According to Shilander, owner of Beechwood Grill — which shares a parking lot with the replica — the small lot used to hold a house.
“There used to be a small man,” he said. “The property was purchased and owned by Beechwood, and a couple of partners had the idea to convert the spot into an ice cream shop. They took the footprint of the house and built the lighthouse around it.
“It was a good concept at the time, but it was never super successful, being located just across from Captain Sundae. It’s been sitting vacant for almost 10 years, and we use it for storage.”
In an attempt to better utilize the unique building, Shilander has searched for a “lighthouse”-centered business — an insurance company or sub shop.
“But we never had any luck,” he said. “Then I talked to an architect about using the structure as a hotel/motel.”
Shilander brought the plan before the Holland Township Planning Commission in August. While commissioners expressed support for the idea, some were also concerned about the precedent — since, as a single-room hotel, the building would operate similarly to a short-term rental, which isn’t an allowed use.
“The concern is that this might open the door to a workaround to have a short-term rental,” Shilander said. “This isn’t a residential spot, it’s zoned C-2, so you’d have a building you’d call a hotel. They’re trying to determine how many other spaces could do something like this, but I don’t think many would qualify. It’s a very small lot for C-2. Anything else would have space for multiple rooms.
“I have a neutral stance, though. I don’t have any animosity. If they don’t feel it fits with their long-term vision, that’s fine. There are a lot of steps involved in getting this approved, particularly because it’s a non-conforming lot in terms of setbacks.”
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The commission ultimately voted to table the item until Shilander provides a site plan, floor plan and details regarding management and maintenance. A motion to outright deny the request for a special land-use permit failed.
“We’d plan on putting a buffer between the lighthouse and the restaurant, and there’d be space for a grill and a firepit,” Shilander said. “The lower-level would be an open living space with a kitchen and bathroom and the upper portion would be loft spaces. We’re envisioning a spiral staircase going up the middle. But the first step is working with the township. That’s where we “re at.”
— Contact reporter Cassandra Lybrink firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram@BizHolland.