Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

April 4, 2013

Stella restaurant spin-off on Front Street

TRAVERSE CITY — Owners of the renowned Trattoria Stella will open a second restaurant downtown in a proposed building project that’s unusual because the developers won’t ask for public money to offset their costs.

Tim Pulliam and Steve Morse, founders of the energy efficiency firm Keen Technical Solutions, propose to construct a two-story building on the southwest corner of Front and Cass streets to house a Stella spin-off in an environmentally sustainable and energy efficient building. The two entrepreneurs said they have no interest in pursuing public funding — or the associated politics that accompanied and undercut previous development attempts on the corner.

“We will build something sustainable that we know can stand by itself and doesn’t need public dollars,” Pulliam said. “Not one of us wants a five-story building. We want something that fits down there.”

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.

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 at a cost of $3 to $4 million, depending on the final design.

The project will not require city commission approval. It will require approval from the city’s Historic District Commission, said Dave Weston, the city’s zoning administrator.

A previous attempt to redevelop the corner by Thom Darga and Cherry Republic owner Bob Sutherland stalled in May 2012 after Cherry Republic pulled out as the main tenant and Darga couldn’t find a replacement.

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