TRAVERSE CITY — A long-dormant proposal for a mixed-use development and parking deck on downtown’s west end may have new life, but the developer’s identity is a bit of a mystery.
Architect David Hanawalt of Traverse City is expected to present city planning commissioners a conceptual plan for a nine-story complex of apartments, retail shops, a fitness center, and a restaurant on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The proposal includes a stand-alone, six-level parking deck in the center of the property that is bordered by the Boardman River. The parking structure would surrounded by upper-story apartments and ground floor retail and commercial uses on three sides.
“If it happens, it certainly is a huge project for the downtown in an area that is kind of listless,” said Russ Soyring, city planner. “It would add about 140 to 150 dwelling units to the downtown and that could have a big impact.”
The complex would be comprised of separate buildings. A building along West Front Street would include a 4,000-square-foot restaurant with loft and terrace next to a 10,000-square-foot specialty foods store and a small cafe at the corner, all topped with seven floors of apartments.
The building would be just below the city’s maximum height limit of 100 feet and would require a special land use permit.
The developer behind the project did not submit a name with the application. Hanawalt did not return calls for comment.
Area economic development officials identified Traverse City developer Michael Niedzielski as a person who has shown interest in the property in the past, but did not know if he was involved in this latest project. Niedzielski could not be reached for comment.
Neither Hanawalt nor the developers have an ownership interest in the property that’s listed for sale at $3.47 million.
Joe Sarafa, one of the property owners, said he has never met or spoken with the developer. He was approached by a real estate agent who represented the developer a couple of months ago, but said he could not recall either person’s last name. Sarafa and another owner, Erik Falconer, OK’d approval for the city’s review of the conceptual plan, but they have not seen those plans.
Soyring requested Hanawalt submit the plans for conceptual review and said the developer doesn’t need an ownership interest at this stage.
“This is very, very preliminary but it’s easier to make changes or adaptions now because once you’ve gotten into tens of thousands of dollars in design, things get more rigid,” Soyring said.
The city needs detailed site plans and proof of an ownership interest by the developers to begin serious review, Soyring said.
Sarafa, Falconer, and Gerry Snowden are members of Pine Street Development One LLC, which owns the property. Snowden recently filed suit in 13th Circuit Court in a fight to ascertain ownership interests.
The lawsuit should not interfere with a property sale, Falconer said.
The Traverse City Downtown Development Authority identified the site as the most likely location for a public parking deck on the west end of downtown, mainly because of the owners’ interest in selling.
Mayor Michael Estes said he expected Rob Bacigalupi, DDA executive director, to make a proposal to the DDA in the next few months to buy a portion of the property, but that’s now on hold.
Bacigalupi said he hadn’t met with the proposed developers, so he doesn’t know if they intend to build a private or public deck. He hopes to learn more Wednesday night.