Commongrounds co-op Attracts Interest

The vacant lot next to Twin Bay Glass on Eighth Street is slated to become a four-story mixed-use building.

TRAVERSE CITY — A new co-op building planned for the vacant lot at 416 Eighth St. is attracting plenty of interest. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2019 on a mixed-use building that could be complete by summer 2020.

Billed as a real estate cooperative, Commongrounds plans a combination of commercial and residential spaces in a four-story building on the bank of the Boardman River. Early efforts resulted in commitment from 366 “community owners” to invest in the project. Organizers had aimed to sign up 250 by Dec. 1.

“They’re member owners. What they own is part of the co-op,” said attorney Kate Redman, Commongrounds project director. “We have two classes of ownership in the building — tenant owners and community owners.”

The 366 people who already paid $50 each to join the co-op are community owners. They will have a voice in management of the co-op, access to member-only events and use of co-op owned recreational equipment. Redman compared the organization’s structure to that used by Oryana Community Co-op.

The Commongrounds co-op will not generate a profit, she said.

A group of investors, including the Commongrounds co-op, owns the land at 416 Eighth St., said Redman. They bought the vacant lot this year from local developer Joe Sarafa, who still owns the building next door at 400 E. Eighth St.

Tenant owners will be businesses that lease space in the Commongrounds building. More information is available at www.commongrounds.coop. An investment crowdfunding drive is planned for 2019.

Several commercial tenant partners have signed up to lease space in the structure: Higher Grounds Trading Company, Iron Fish Distillery, Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology, and Pathways Preschool.

Redman is a co-founder and member of community innovation hub and coworking space Commonplace, which also will be a commercial tenant of Commongrounds. Commonplace currently manages co-working spaces on Lake Street and in The Box, a commercial building across Eighth Street from the planned location of Commongrounds.

Crosshatch will operate a community event and performance space with 150 seats in the Commongrounds building. A riverside café will feature Iron Fish and Higher Grounds.

The third and fourth floors will include 24 rental housing units.

Redman said the apartments will be aimed at people making between $41,100 and $61,650 — 80 to 120 percent of area median income for a one-person household, according to Housing and Urban Development figures. The nonprofit is looking for partners and other solutions to make the housing even more affordable.

Chris Treter, of Higher Grounds Trading Company, said in a release that Commongrounds could become a foundational pillar in the redevelopment of the Eighth Street corridor.

Iron Fish Distillery and Higher Grounds, along with other partners, plan to choose a restaurant partner to serve local food and craft beverages.

Brad Kik of Crosshatch said in the release that the performance space could host events ranging from high school punk rock shows to high-end listening room concerts with both local and traveling musicians.

Sarafa owns 400 E. Eighth St., which houses the Hubbell Law Office and other businesses. That building, he said, eventually will be torn down to make way for a new mixed-use structure.

“That’s the plan right now,” said Sarafa.

How tall will the new riverside structure be?

“Under 60 feet. It should be built by right,” he said, referring to city zoning regulations.

Sarafa said his project will include commercial, office and residential space. He hopes to break ground in spring 2020, a year after Commongrounds is set to begin construction.