CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Construction crews are close to finishing a new senior center in Cedar Springs after a questionable real estate deal left seniors without a place to gather.
The North Kent Senior Citizens Association previously told Target 8 investigator Henry Erb it sold its building in October 2021. The buyer ended up selling the property for eight times the price paid to the seniors.
Jen Ruwersma, who currently runs a day care, has spearheaded the project to get a senior center back in the community in partnership with a new child care center.Housing both in the same building is something that’s more common in other countries and can have a lot of benefits.
Ruwersma purchased the building for the new Village Learning Center on North Main Street in Cedar Springs but the planned renovations ran into some major challenges.
“I actually drove by and saw that there was only one wall standing and (I) had a little heart attack,” Ruwersma said.
The roof collapsed when it was being removed in April. The damage meant a renovation was no longer possible. A new building had to be constructed.
Ruwersma is eager for the seniors to see the space once it is complete.
“I have not let them see it,” Ruwersma said. “They have no idea exactly what they are getting but it is much larger than we originally anticipated.”
The community stepped up to support the project, with local businesses donating hundreds of thousands in supplies, money and countless hours of free labor. One of those small businesses is Druckenmiller Painting. Owner Chad Druckenmiller says when he heard about the project, he did not hesitate to help.
“Grandparents are a really important part of our community still. I was close to mine and our kids are close to their grandparents and this was an easy opportunity for us to jump on something and help,” Druckenmiller said.
Philo HVAC company is providing equipment and the labor to install it.
“We’re pushing over about $50,000 roughly of donations so far,” owner Scott Philo said.
Standale Lumber and Home Studio has donated at least a couple hundred thousand in materials.
“Anybody in the building industry gets a little excited about the progress, and the drywall, and the trim, the smell of fresh wood in the space,” Home Studio general manager Sam Rich said. “It’s exciting to see where it came from (when) just a few months ago and it was an open shell.”
Ruwersma is excited to get the center opened, with the first day scheduled for Aug. 21.
“We have had so many donations from different companies that have made it possible for us to continue,” Ruwersma said.