Traverse City News and Events

City Commissioners Approve Lot O/Parking Deck Deals, Senior Center PUD

By Beth Milligan | Jan. 18, 2023

Traverse City commissioners voted Tuesday to approve agreements that could allow a new downtown parking deck to move forward on State Street – a shift south in location from an originally planned spot on West Front Street – and for affordable housing to be built on Lot O at the corner of State and Cass streets.

City commissioners voted 6-1 - with Commissioner Tim Werner opposed - to approve an interfund loan between the city and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) that will allow the city to buy five parcels at 118, 122, 124, 128, and 130 West State Street from Socks Construction for just under $6.6 million. Those parcels would form the location of a new third parking deck downtown along State Street between Union and Pine streets. 

The deal includes a land swap, with Socks Construction agreeing to buy two properties fron the city at 145 West Front Street and 103 Pine Street for just over $4.9 million. The city has been holding onto those properties for the intended construction of the new parking deck. However, moving the deck south of the alley to be along State Street instead of West Front Street will increase the number of parking spaces that can be built – up to 623, compared to 370 in the West Front location. DDA board members are also set to vote on approving the interfund loan at their meeting Friday.

City commissioners voted 6-1 Tuesday - with Werner opposed - to approve a deal to sell Lot O located next to The Omelette Shoppe at the corner of State and Cass streets to HomeStretch Nonprofit Housing Corporation for a 60-unit affordable housing development (pictured, rendering). HomeStretch will pay $470,000 for the property and will commit to 80 percent of the building’s apartments having an aggregate average tenant income of 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Those unit rates will be maintained at least 30 years or as long as HomeStretch owns the building, whichever is longer, and HomeStretch will provide the city with an independent annual audit to confirm it is meeting that requirement.

The deal also stipulates that the city will have first right of refusal on the property in the future. After the agreement is signed, the city will execute a quitclaim deed conveying the property to HomeStretch. The deed will be held in escrow for up to two years to allow HomeStretch to acquire financing for the project. Once HomeStretch has secured at least 80 percent of the total development costs and can meet all the contingencies in the agreement, the deed will be released from escrow and delivered to HomeStretch. In the meantime, the city will maintain control of Lot O and continue to use it for parking until the deed is released. If HomeStretch can’t raise the necessary funds in two years, it can terminate the agreement and receive its earnest money back – though the contract also allows for a one-year extension if HomeStretch requests it and the city approves it. The contract also stipulates that access from State Street will be built and maintained for the neighboring businesses, a condition that prompted Werner to opposed the motion.

Also at Tuesday's commission meeting, commissioners held a public hearing and approved a planned unit development (PUD) application for the Traverse City Senior Center to be redeveloped on city-owned property on East Front Street. The approval paves the way for the planned reconstruction of the building to proceed later this year. Commissioners also voted 6-1 - with Werner opposed - to approve a $3.916 million contract with Team Elmer’s for the reconstruction of Madison and Jefferson streets this year.

Commissioners Tuesday also rejected a building electrification policy proposed by Werner, which would have required all new buildings built on city-owned property to be fully electrified. It would also have required buildings that qualify for a city payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement to be fully electrified, and all vacant city property that is sold or leased to be deed restricted for full electrification. Any city buildings that undergo major renovations would need to be fully electrified at that time, and all regularly scheduled replacements of city-owned boilers, other heating, and hot water supply would require full electrification. Several commissioners said they wanted to have more discussion about the policy and better understand how it would be implemented, as well as hear recommendations from the city's Green Team later this spring. The building policy motion failed 2-5, with only Werner and Commissioner Linda Koebert in support. However, commissioners agreed to revisit the policy for further discussion in April.

 

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