In 1836, three entrepreneurs named Dibble, Kingsbury and Kendall bought 480 acres (1.9 km2) along the Thornapple River from Detroit banker Eurotas P. Hastings. The three platted the area into lots, and soon a small community arose. In 1843, the state legislature designated Hastings as the County Seat of Barry County. The first paper, the Barry County Pioneer, began publishing in 1851, and a second paper, the Republican Banner, began in 1856. The latter publication, a weekly paper published on Thursdays, continues to be published as the Hastings Banner.
Hastings was incorporated as a village in 1855, with a population of around 300, and on March 11, 1871, Hastings officially became a city. The Barry County Courthouse, which is still in use today, was built in 1893. The city grew slowly, reaching 6,500 people in 1960 and remaining nearly flat through 1990.
The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has made large strides in downtown Hastings to provide an enjoyable atmosphere for all the residents in and around Hastings, Michigan. New downtown events have been created, streets, sidewalks and municipal parking lots have been improved and constructed, storefronts have been restored and rehabilitated, streets and related underground utilities have been enhanced and modernized, new streetscapes have been designed and constructed including decorative lampposts, benches, refuse containers, ballards and banner poles, seasonal decorative banners are displayed, and brick accents have been placed along sidewalks and public and private parking facilities to complement the historic atmosphere of Hastings downtown. New events and improvements continue to be advanced.
We will continue to promote and pursue the development of an economically viable downtown that sustains a high quality appearance and design, is safe and attractive to property owners, merchants, renters, shoppers and visitors alike. Our areas of focus will continue to be on economic development that supports mixed use development, infrastructure improvement, architectural design and preservation, business retention, business recruitment, and downtown marketing and promotions.
The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) budgets annually for funds to be allocated to a downtown facade grant program. Approximately $40-50,000 is spent annually through the program. An applicant may receive up to a $5,000 matching grant.
The Downtown District is composed of a historic downtown/central business district made up of approximately 4 x 5 blocks, on the Thornapple River and immediately adjacent to a contemporary regional shopping district which is 10 x 3 blocks long. The two districts compliment each other in that shoppers commonly frequent both business districts within the same visit. Each district benefits by being within the DDA district by development of complimentary streetscapes and marketing initiatives.
The Downtown Development Authority Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month in the 2nd floor conference room at Hastings City Hall at 201 E. State St. The meetings begin at 8:00 a.m. and all members of the public are welcome to come and are encouraged to do so!