Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 24, 2014

Planners like concept, but are concerned about 9 stories

TRAVERSE CITY — City planners offered a mixed reaction to plans for a multi-building project anchored by a nine-story structure on the western end of downtown.

Several planning commissioners said they liked a concept proposed this week by architect David Hanawalt of Traverse City for a four-building complex of apartments, retail shops, restaurants and parking deck on the southwest corner of West Front and Pine streets. But an equal number questioned its combined size, as well as the height of one of the buildings, as compared to other downtown uses.

“Something that might be problematic for this development is the proposed mass,” said Bill Twietmeyer, planning commissioner and city treasurer. “I suspect the mass will be much more than what we already have.”

Planning Commissioner Janet Fleshman said she had already received comments from people about the “overwhelming mass” of the project.

But John Serratelli, planning commission chairman, said he liked the concept.

“I think it could be a nice step for drawing people downtown farther west,” Seratelli said. “It would bring more activity and life down there.”

Planning Commissioner Michael Dow said he wouldn’t oppose the concept of a nine-story building if it was done correctly.

The proposed building would stand just under 100-feet-tall at street level, making it taller than the adjacent Riverview Terrace apartments, but shorter than the Park Place Hotel. The building would sit less than 15 feet from curb.

The tallest building’s face would ascend in a series of steps so it would not seem so tall from the sidewalk, Hanawalt said. Treating the sidewalk as a “human scale place” with trees and canopies also would reduce the sense of mass.

Planning commissioners had several detailed questions for Hanawalt, most of which he said he couldn’t answer.

“I really don’t know; I’m just doing the drawings,” Hanawalt said when asked if the building had to be nine stories tall.

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