Traverse City Record-Eagle

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July 13, 2014

Commissioners consider warehouse offers

TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners are set to begin a process to decide if they want to allow a city-owned warehouse to be converted into a homeless shelter.

Meanwhile, an alternative proposal to use the property as a sports center lurks in the wings.

Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse Inc. wants to use the property at 517 Wellington Street just south of Eighth Street for a 100-bed homeless shelter. Commissioners will consider that use for the property when they meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center for a study session. No decision is expected, but commissioners likely will give direction to staff on how to proceed.

“We are looking at options and trying to get direction from the commission,” said Penny Hill, assistant city manager. “The main thing is ... are they interested in having Safe Harbor as a use in that building at all.”

Other options for consideration range from the city keeping it for future storage or putting it on the market for lease or sale.

Whether the options include an alternative proposal from NorthStar Soccer Inc. to use the warehouse as sports center remains to be seen. Commissioner Gary Howe said the NorthStar proposal creates a larger question of what to do with unused city property.

But Commissioner Ross Richardson doesn’t see anything to consider from NorthStar.

“They’ve sent two letters which don’t really say much,” Richardson said. “They don’t even say what they want to do or what they want from the city.”

A letter dated July 9 from Darrell Rogers, NorthStar’s board president, said group leaders are preparing a plan to present to the city commission. He made a similar statement in a letter dated April 14. The letter does not describe what the sports center would contain, or if the organization seeks a gift from the city or if they want to lease the building.

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