Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

April 6, 2014

Grand Traverse Mall reps voice discontent over plan

TRAVERSE CITY — Not everyone is happy with a proposal to redevelop the dilapidated Horizon Outlet Mall into the Buffalo Ridge Center.

TC Center Partners LLC announced plans to give the outlet mall on U.S. 31 new life by demolishing the building on the northern half of the parcel and building a 14-screen movie theater in its place. Carmike Cinemas would close the Horizon Cinema already on the parcel and run the new theater instead.

The movie theater would be the project's first phase. Developers don't yet know what would go in the parcel's southern half.

An attorney for the Grand Traverse Mall – located just a mile north of the proposed Buffalo Ridge Center – said the Buffalo Ridge Center’s Planned Use Development application doesn't contain enough information. Attorney Patrick Heintz spoke at a public hearing in Garfield Township on March 12, and said he wants the township to require TC Partners to prove the development will be economically viable, fit the area traffic plan and protect groundwater.

“The problem we have with this situation is we were held to that tight standard when we built the mall,” Heintz said at the hearing. “All applications relative to market, relative to traffic, relative to any other concerns you have with development in this character need to be taken into the highest standard. That’s what we were subjected to, that’s what we believe the developer’s asking for, but yet not satisfying in their submission.”

Heintz represented the Grand Traverse Mall when developers General Growth unveiled building plans in 1989, and had to answer to a lawsuit initiated by the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council. The lawsuit was partially dismissed and settled out of court. The mall opened in 1992.

Garfield Township Supervisor Chuck Korn said the Buffalo Ridge Center project is different than the Grand Traverse Mall's original proposal because Buffalo Ridge is scheduled for a parcel that’s already developed – not a farm field like the mall location’s predecessor.

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