BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A new restaurant project in the heart of downtown Traverse City will begin as predicted, and motorists and pedestrians are warned to expect congestion in the area until spring.
Tim Pulliam and Steve Morse, founders of the energy efficiency firm Keen Technical Solutions, will begin construction Monday on a two-story, environmentally-sustainable and energy-efficient building on the southwest corner of Front and Cass streets.
The structure will house a restaurant created by the owners of Trattoria Stella.
The property includes the courtyard on the corner and a small building occupied by Great Lakes Bath & Body; the building to the south that houses Passageways Travel; and the building to the east that holds Cherry Hill Boutique.
The courtyard traditionally hosts a small house for Santa Claus to greet children during the holidays. Santa's host, the Downtown Traverse City Association, is still working on finding a new location for Santa, officials said.
Pulliam and Morse will update the Cherry Hill and Passageways buildings for safety and energy efficiency. A two-story addition will go behind the Cherry Hill building to house the restaurant’s kitchen on the ground floor with office space above.
The two-story building on the corner will hold the rest of the restaurant and include open-air seating on the second floor.
Total new construction will add about 11,000 square feet to the downtown with a target completion date in May 2014.
The work will require lane shifts on Cass Street and parking closures on Cass and Front streets, as well as limited marked pedestrian detours around the area, city officials said.