Traverse City News and Events

300-Unit Housing Development Planned For Rennie School Road

By Beth Milligan | July 8, 2020

A 300-unit apartment complex is being planned for 28.5 acres on Rennie School Road just west of Blain’s Farm & Fleet (pictured) – the last parcel the Grand Traverse Land Bank Authority has for sale on the site, closing out a decade-long effort to develop the property and completing a planned extension of Stadium Drive to Rennie School Road.

Blair Township planning commissioners will review site plans for the multi-family development at their July 15 meeting at 6pm. Development group Edward Rose & Sons is proposing to build 10 apartment buildings containing a total 300 units, including 190 one-bedroom apartments and 110 two-bedroom apartments. Project plans include a 6,536 square-foot community building with a leasing office, pool, fitness center, and grilling station. A 1,836 square-foot maintenance building is also planned for the property.

Project representative Kirsten Rimes declined to comment for this story, noting the property purchase has not yet been finalized. But in a memo to planning commissioners, Rimes outlined her development group’s experience and vision for the site. “Edward Rose & Sons is an experienced developer with over 65,000 units in 15 states,” she wrote. “Our company handles all (phases) of development, land acquisition, rezoning, site planning, site improvements, construction, and management of the apartments after completion. With our multifamily development experience and the need for housing within Grand Traverse County, we believe this will be a successful project.”

According to the company’s special use permit application, the development’s layout and design will be “harmonious and appropriate in appearance with the existing and intended character of the vicinity.” Developers noted that because Edward Rose & Sons manages and doesn't sell its projects, “we take pride in the appearance and upkeep of our properties.” The company’s website displays a series of modest to brand-new luxury apartment complexes in other communities highlighting upscale amenities, “intuitive floorplans,” and “friendly neighborhoods.” Rents in those complexes range from the low-$600s to nearly $2,000, depending on the apartment size and city.

“Although 300 apartment units is a significant increase in the area, because of the layout and spacing of the buildings, it will minimize the impact of the development in the area,” Edward Rose & Sons wrote in its Blair Township application. “Because of the topography, we’re able to construct our ‘Bridge Buildings’ for a majority of the buildings. This will reduce the height of the front of the building to 2-story (the back will be 3 stories), allowing the buildings to blend in easier to the surrounding residential area.” Site plans also call for a buffer strip on the west property line to protect the existing residential homes in that area.

The Grand Traverse Land Bank Authority – which works with local governments on converting vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties into productive use – owns the vacant parcel. It is the last of three properties totaling 71.5 acres the Land Bank has worked to find buyers for along Rennie School Road. The Land Bank sold nearly two dozen acres to Blain’s Farm & Fleet in 2018, a deal that allowed Blair Township to pay off a $1.3 million sewer bond debt on the parcel. The township was saddled with the debt after taking out bonds a decade ago to pay for sewer hookups on the property for a planned water park that never materialized.

A second parcel was sold to HM Development for the development of residential community Stafford Meadows and storage site Stafford Ranch Barns. Edward Rose & Sons now has the last parcel under contract for $450,000 – the listing price with Three West, which represents the site. According to Grand Traverse County Treasurer and Land Bank Chair Heidi Scheppe, the deal is contingent on Stadium Drive being extended to Rennie School Road. That extension was already in the works as part of the brownfield plan for the surrounding area, with the goal of alleviating neighborhood traffic – particularly at Turtle Creek Stadium – by routing vehicles to the new signal at Rennie School Road and US-31 by Blain’s.

Blair Township Supervisor Nicole Blonshine says that Blair Township, the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, and HM Development will share the upfront costs of the road extension project, then be reimbursed over time through the brownfield plan. “The draft agreement is still being reviewed by the brownfield authority, but we hope to have an agreement signed by all entities by the end of the month,” Blonshine says. That could allow road construction to begin this summer, with Edward Rose & Sons expressing its desire to officials to close on the property in August, contingent on the road project and township approval.

Blonshine says she’s excited about attracting a potential buyer for the final Land Bank parcel after years of failed attempts – dating back to the water park – of trying to develop the site. Blonshine believes the apartment complex is “perfectly situated” to provide a transition between the residential and commercial components in the corridor. “I’m happy to see it’s under contract, and super happy to see we have a beautiful potential apartment complex with 300 units,” she says. “It will definitely assist us with the housing need in our community and in the surrounding area.”

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