Hudsonville Wins 2017 Community Excellence Awards Competition

Date: September 15, 2017

The community of Hudsonville was honored with the Michigan Municipal League’s 2017 Community Excellence Award (CEA) on Sept. 15 during  the League’s annual convention in Holland.

The peer-nominated Community Excellence Award (CEA), affectionately called “The Race for the Cup,” was started by the League in 2007 to recognize innovative solutions taking place in Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships. It’s the highest and most prestigious award bestowed by the statewide League. The winning community receives a large cup trophy that they get to have on display for the next year. Last year’s winner was the City of Beaverton.

Hudsonville, located in west Michigan with a population of about 7,100, won for its Terra Square downtown revitalization project. The community took a vacated auto dealership and turned it into Terra Square - a multi-purpose community venue that gives placemaking a whole new meaning.

Community officials attending were elated with winning the CEA and also spoke highly of the fellow three finalists – Cadillac, Milan and Wayne (see details on those projects below).

“The Terra Square project already means so much to our community. We have a farmers market, a restaurant, a reception hall, a place for businesses to launch activities, so it’s already had a major impact on the city,” said Hudsonville Mayor Mark Northrup. “The award itself is a cherry on a lot of whipped cream.”

City Manager Patrick Waterman added that one great thing about the Terra Square project is that it’s replicable in any community that has vacant or underused properties.

“Getting this award recognizes the value of these types of projects and what they can mean for Michigan communities,” Waterman said. “We can all gain these ideas from one other. What’s important about this award is it brings recognition to the unique things that different communities in the state are doing and how to make ourselves better.”

The Terra Square building, which opened June 3, 2017, features four distinct community spaces; an Indoor/Outdoor Farmers Market Space; a Gathering Space available for private gatherings or business events; a Co-Work Space where small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs can create together; and Sonder Provisions, a privately operated farm-to-table restaurant space. The facility is an adaptive reuse of an old Chevrolet dealership building from the 1950s. It sits at the terminus of the new Harvey Street woonerf, a European-themed living street designed with the pedestrian in mind.

Hudsonville was one of four finalists in the statewide Community Excellence Awards competition. The other three finalists were:

  • The Plaza at Cadillac Commons (Cadillac)
  • Milan’s Downtown Redevelopment and Revitalization (Milan)
  • Bicycling Means Business and Friendship in Wayne, Michigan (Wayne)

The finalists were among 20 projects, programs, and initiatives involving 19 Michigan communities vying for the statewide Community Excellence Award (CEA) — the most prestigious Michigan Municipal League honor.

The 2017 Race for the Cup began in the spring. This year, the League eliminated the categories and instead provided communities with suggested topics that ranged from civic engagement and innovative delivery of services to placemaking and redevelopment. Each entry was ranked by a panel of judges, and the public had a chance to weigh in through an online voting component. The projects’ final score was based on the judges’ ranking (75 percent) and online voting (25 percent). The top four entries advanced to the final round.

Representatives from the final four presented their projects at the League’s 2017 Convention in Holland, Michigan, on Sept. 13-15. After hearing the presentations, Convention attendees voted for their favorite project, with Hudsonville receiving the most votes. Hudsonville was awarded the coveted CEA Trophy Cup at the conclusion of the convention Friday, Sept. 15.