Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

August 18, 2013

Future of Grand Traverse Commons constantly evolving

TRAVERSE CITY — Ray Minervini was a vocal proponent for historic preservation as a Grand Traverse Commons board member in the late 1990s.

He didn't think at the time, though, that he would be the one to take on the property's centerpiece Building 50 until a board member challenged him to come up with a plan.

“He said, ‘If you feel so strongly, why don’t you just do it?'” Minervini recalled.

Minervini thought about it for a year, then developed a vision for a multi-dimensional community. His plan included a road map for reuse of the old buildings that could be implemented “one bite at a time.”

Today, the Victorian silhouettes of the old institution are a Traverse City landmark. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a success story, by all accounts, led by the Minervini Group, which own 63-acres inside the State Hospital’s original 500-acre boundaries. The Minervini Group has rehabilitated 320,700 square feet now being used for housing, dining, shops and offices.

Just over half of the space is residential, with 128 units ranging from studio apartments to 4,000 square foot luxury condos. The remaining 146,000 square feet is divided between offices, restaurants, retail shops and the Greenspire public charter school.

Direct investment to date is estimated at $71,217,200.

But the developers aren't done. The Minervini Group says the project is one third through its full redevelopment.

When completed $192-million will be invested with 401 residential units and 214 commercial/retail spaces.

Ray’s son, Raymond Minervini, is a partner and co-developer in the Minervini Group. He noted the Village plan calls for a layer cake of uses. Implementation moves forward as projects are completed. Market forces such as the economic downturn of 2008 can impact timelines, but momentum continues at a steady rate.

The next phases are underway, beginning with a $3-million renovation of the 13,800 square foot former Chapel. Reminiscent of its original 1885 use as a community gathering place, the second floor will become an event space for weddings, performances, conferences and special events. On the main floor the hospital’s former kitchen is being rehabilitated into a restaurant slated to open in spring 2014. The event space could be in service by this winter.

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