Planning Efforts Begin for Future of Michigan’s Harbor Island

HDR unveiled three redevelopment concepts for Michigan’s Harbor Island during a community meeting highlighting the visioning process this spring. These early concepts mark the beginning of a new future for the island. Located in Grand Haven, Michigan, the site has been the subject of a significant environmental investigation effort, also led by HDR. 

“We want to balance what the community wants with what we can do scientifically,” said Lara Zawaideh, HDR project manager and Michigan business development leader. “We have enjoyed working with the Grand Haven community to envision the future of this site, and we are excited to keep working toward a better Harbor Island.” 

Community feedback via an online survey and on-site visioning events influenced the nature-focused designs. Concepts feature green spaces, recreational amenities like trails, boardwalks and event areas, art installations, solar fields and natural wetlands. The goal is to leverage Harbor Island’s unique location — on the Grand River, near Grand Haven’s downtown and just a mile from Lake Michigan — as a recreational hotspot while honoring its environmental features. 

Renew Harbor Island Concepts
Three redevelopment concepts for Michigan's Harbor Island showcase a mix of green spaces, recreational amenities, art installations, solar fields, natural wetlands and more. Take a closer look at concept A, concept B and concept C

“These are early concepts,” Zawaideh said. “The City of Grand Haven has made community engagement and collaboration a priority, seeking their input early and often throughout this process. These concepts are now with the public to review and consider as we continue our work on next steps to address remediation.”

For the past year, HDR has been working with the City of Grand Haven on an in-depth environmental study of Harbor Island to identify the extent of coal ash and potential perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination, likely the result of the island’s past use as an industrial site. HDR’s environmental teams have been regularly testing the island’s groundwater, collecting and analyzing that data, then using it to work through the regulatory process and inform remediation options and redevelopment visions. 

“It’s been humbling to see our community come together and engage in planning efforts around the future of Harbor Island,” said Derek Gadjos, public works director for Grand Haven. “These concepts are truly community-driven, and we look forward to seeing where discussions will go from here. Wherever it lands, we know that Harbor Island will be part of what makes Grand Haven a great place to live, work and play.”

About HDR 
HDR is a 100% employee-owned professional services firm. Founded over a century ago to bring electricity to a changing world, we are now a global company specializing in architecture, engineering, environmental and construction services. Our success in built and natural environments continues as we collaborate to solve our clients’ and communities’ most complex challenges.