Major Housing Development Planned For Brewery Creek Property
By Beth Milligan | Oct. 17, 2019
A 606-unit housing development is planned for property along Brewery Creek between East Grandview Road and East Carter Road in Elmwood Township – a project slated to break ground in spring 2020 and unfold in four phases over the next 10-20 years.
Representatives from Leelanau County-based REI Construction Consultants appeared before township planning commissioners this week to present plans for the new Brewery Creek Apartments. Partners Jon Laureto, Maggie Laureto, and David Moore – a trio that also owns TC Lofts in downtown Traverse City and has overseen construction on several other local developments – are planning to build a market-rate apartment complex offering “multi-generational and workforce housing,” according to project documents. “A mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as two and three-bedroom townhomes, will be provided." Phase one of the project, located on the northeast section of the property with a planned entrance off East Grandview Road, will include approximately 110 units and take three to five years to complete. The first units could be ready for occupancy as soon as summer 2021.
Jon Laureto laid out a vision for the property that aims to protect the site’s wetlands, creek, and “as many of the trees and woods” as possible to create a natural environment for the development’s tenants. Laureto said the surroundings would distinguish Brewery Creek Apartments from other housing complexes around town. “There’s going to be a lot of walking trails through the site,” he said. “We just think it’s beautiful.” Pocket parks and access to the adjacent TART Trail are also planned. Laureto said as part of an effort to meet Elmwood Township’s master plan – which prioritizes clustered housing – building density would be designed in such a way to keep nearly 70 percent of the property as open space.
Subsequent construction phases would bring close to 500 more units and additional entrances off East Grandview Road and East Carter Road, with remaining phases also planned to each take three to five years to complete, depending on market demand. In totality, the project could take up to two decades to finish. “It’s a rather large piece of property, and we’re going to build it over many phases and several years,” said Laureto. Noting that all three partners are Bingham Township residents, Laureto said the team was personally committed to seeing through the long-term project. “The main goal of this project is really to provide some reasonably priced housing for local residents,” he said. REI has not yet shared anticipated rental rates for units.
Sewer, gas, electric, and other utilities already exist to service the development. Other planned amenities include a dog park, a community pool, and a clubhouse. Parking will be available in a mixture of surface lots, carports, and garages, according to Laureto. The development team said the project’s proximity to downtown Traverse City and the TART Trail will “help lessen workers’ commutes and therefore traffic” and increase enrollment in local school districts. Laureto also noted his company prohibits tenants from using their units as short-term or vacation rentals.
Brewery Creek Apartments is a use-by-right project, meaning the property is already zoned for the proposed development and requires only a normal site plan review and land-use permit approval. Township planning commissioners provided developers with a list of items they’d like to see more details on before potentially approving the site plan at their November 19 meeting. Those include updated and enlarged renderings that delineate the site’s topography and setbacks, the distance from apartment buildings to wetlands, impervious surface areas, and stormwater and drainage plans – including for a planned culvert crossing. REI representatives said they planned to avoid any construction in wetlands except for the culvert – a project planned for phase four – and would use a combination of rain gardens, infiltration systems, and traditional detention basins to capture stormwater runoff.
Planning commissioners also wanted feedback from the road commission on any road improvements that will be required to support traffic increases to and from the development. The road commission has already given the green light to the planned entrances for the project off Carter and Grandview roads. However, planning commissioners cautioned developers that while a traffic light could someday be a reality at Carter Road, data has shown a signal at Grandview Road will likely be impossible. Planning commissioner Jeff Aprill told REI that “both of the road connections (into the development) would be very important” to keep either road from becoming too congested, particularly Grandview Road.
REI representatives indicated they could meet all of the township’s requests and would come to the planning commission’s next meeting with the required drawings and details. “We look forward to the updated information,” said Planning Commission Chair Rick Bechtold. “It looks to be an exciting project.”
Pictured: Conceptual renderings for Brewery Creek Apartments units. Photo credit: Paradigm Design.