Resort Condo Development Planned For Acme
By Beth Milligan | Dec. 22, 2017
A local restaurateur is planning to build a major resort condominium development on M-72 in Acme Township – a project that could have a domino effect of bringing a new food-centered complex to the intersection of Hammond and Three Mile roads in East Bay Township.
Owner Dan Kelly of Catering by Kelly’s hopes to build a neighborhood village consisting of stores, coffee shops/restaurants and what he describes as single-unit “microflats” on nearly 20 acres at 4240 M-72. The property is currently home to Kelly’s Williamsburg Events Center, as well as his commercial catering kitchen. Detailed project plans submitted to Acme Township planning commissioners earlier this month call for a four-phase development that would demolish the existing buildings and bring up to 156 housing units and more than 50,000 square feet of commercial and office space to the property.
“It’s a resort condominium complex,” Kelly explains. “We know there’s a huge demand for weekly rentals here, and people who want to invest in real estate. It’s a two-fold deal: You can own a condo as an individual home, and you can also put it in the rental pool. You can buy one of these condos for a lot less money than in Traverse City and have a return on your investment.”
The front-facing portion of the parcel along M-72 would house two mixed-use village centers open to the public “that support the development and Acme,” says Kelly. “We’re looking at things like a coffee shop, a yoga studio, a brewpub, some restaurants.” Kelly describes the condo units as bigger than tiny homes but smaller than traditional single-family homes – hence the “microflat” designation. Conceptual images created by Traverse City-based firm Influence Design Forum (pictured) show a village of such units connected by an internal network of sidewalks and streets set off by manicured green spaces and existing property trees, which Kelly says he wants to preserve. The complex would eventually connect to neighboring sites – such as Meijer and Grand Traverse Resort & Spa – through a trail network and a planned future underground tunnel on M-72.
Working with Influence Design Forum on site plan development, Kelly has quietly spent the last year seeking approvals and permits for the resort complex. His application to Acme Township includes correspondence and permit applications with agencies including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), M2E (stormwater consulting), Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department, and the township’s planning and zoning department.
Kelly is seeking approval of a planned unit development (PUD) on the parcel, which is a detailed zoning plan created for a specific property. Because of its zoning designation, recent rules enacted by Acme Township regulating short-term rentals wouldn’t apply to the property, according to a memo from Township Planning and Zoning Administrator Shawn Winter. “The zoning of your property and the planned development approval you’re seeking will allow your proposal to operate as a mixed-use development where individual detached units may be condominiumized for residential or short-term rental use,” Winter wrote to Kelly. “These short-term rentals will not require a permit if allowed under the planned development approval.”
Kelly’s application also outlines detailed plans to construct stormwater control systems to avoid impacting environmentally sensitive areas on the property, including Acme Creek. “We were pretty proactive…we’ve had concerned citizens walk the property with us, and we’ve done a lot of upfront work so we won’t have the obstacles that Acme’s had in the past,” says Kelly. “It’s very eco-friendly. If Acme’s going to do something (on this site), this is the kind of thing they want.”
At their December 11 meeting, planning commissioners listened to a nearly 90-minute presentation on the project before unanimously agreeing to schedule a public hearing on the PUD request for January 8. Should the PUD be approved by the planning commission and Acme’s township board, Kelly will be cleared to begin construction – though each phase of development will require site plan review and approval before it can proceed. Kelly says he hopes to begin constructing the first units in early 2019, with the pace of development driven by condo sales.
Acme Township Supervisor Jay Zollinger says the project seems to have support from local officials, noting Kelly’s team has worked closely with township staff while developing the project plans. “It will be tastefully done,” says Zollinger. “I think it’ll be a tremendous improvement (to the corridor) that gives us something like a hotel, only with individual units. It’ll link the properties close to our parks and beaches and compliments what else is going on there.”
The development could have implications for East Bay Township as well. Construction of the resort complex in Acme will require Kelly to relocate his commercial catering kitchen to another site. The restaurateur has a purchase agreement for property on the south side of Hammond Road next to the Three Mile Road intersection. At an East Bay Township Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, Kelly told officials he hoped to move his catering kitchen to the property – and could eventually develop the site into a food-centered commercial complex.
“It would be geared up for (products) for people to take home – delis, cheese shops, wine shops, brew shops,” Kelly says. “That’s a big traffic intersection, so we could do more commercial activity there…as an upscale food development.” Kelly emphasizes he’s still in the exploratory phase of the project, with timing dependent on construction of the resort complex in Acme. “It’s one step at a time, but we’re working to cover all our bases,” he says.
Photo credit: Influence Design Forum