Why Waterfront Holland

How we got here

Originally constructed nearly 80 years ago, the coal-fired James De Young Power Plant on Pine Avenue has served the Holland community with reliable electricity for decades, expanding to meet increased demand in 1960 and 1968. The plant officially stopped burning coal in April 2016 and was retired in 2017. City officials began planning the next steps but soon realized the conversation about JDY was part of a broader conversation about the downtown waterfront.

What counts as Waterfront?

The broadest scope of our downtown waterfront stretches east from South Shore Village along Lake Mac and the Macatawa River to Holland Energy Park, and northwest to Dunton Park. The JDY site is near the center where the river empties into Lake Mac.

Why did we engage the public?

There was no specific plan or timeline for what will happen to the JDY site or the broader waterfront, and our community needed to be engaged in forming one. The work of Waterfront Holland will continue to shape our city for decades to come.

The results

See the vision statement, vision diagram and guiding principles that City Council has adopted going forward.

Glossary of Key Terms


No more than a paragraph, a vision is a broad statement that helps articulate a “spirit” and “essence”, without prescribing too many specifics. Comprised of elements, such as “welcoming to all”, or “showcasing the natural environment,” the vision will describe key characteristics and functions of Holland’s downtown waterfront.


A scenario is a more specific proposal that outlines an approach and timeline of development. Scenarios are specific enough in concept to be illustrated and studied. And a scenario’s uses and details can inform future zoning.


A set of critical principles that will serve as a rubric for the appropriateness of proposed developments in open areas of the waterfront.


The broadest scope of the “waterfront” stretches west from South Shore Village along Lake Mac and the Macatawa River to Holland Energy Park, and northwest to Dunton Park.


Acronym for James De Young power plant, which includes the entire site, not just the building itself.


To be in a “neighborhood” or “district” is to be surrounded by common features that create a sense of place. The downtown waterfront contains several neighborhoods/districts – some industrial, some residential, some public and some commercial.


Dot-voting, sometimes called Dot-mocracy is a way to organize a group consensus-building event. In a Dot-mocracy exercise, participants use small dot-shaped stickers to vote for one or more options displayed on an easel or wall-board. In totaling up the dots after an exercise is complete, facilitators can rank the top preference or preferences within a given topic.