Demolition Work Planned For Rotary Sq.; More Downtown Project Updates

Demolition work is slated to begin in future Rotary Square at the corner of Union and State Streets this winter after the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) signed a purchase agreement with Huntington Bank for the property this week. Rotary Square is one of several projects in progress – from redeveloping a parking lot to planning a new riverside space to a new luxury short-term rental complex – in the city center.

DDA CEO Jean Derenzy tells The Ticker that her organization will publish a RFP next week for the demolition of the bank building in Rotary Square (pictured). Another tender is planned to find a consulting firm that will lead the DDA through a community vision process to determine the design and use of the long-planned Bürgerplatz. “I hope the demolition can begin in February and the vision process can begin in February or March,” says Derenzy.

The proposed uses for the space range from a winter ice rink and a special location for the Christmas tree in the city center, to a space for live music and public performances, to park facilities such as benches and fountains. The vision team will help narrow down the ideal design and amenities ahead of a possible start of construction in 2023, says Derenzy. The DDA has already allocated $ 3 million to the project, including a $ 1 million donation from Rotary and a $ 2 million grant from the State of Michigan. Some initial estimates put the total price of Rotary Square at $ 5 million, a cost that the envisioning process will refine but will likely require additional fundraising or allocations to make.

An initial bank contract would have required DDA to build a new mixed-use building on Lot G, the city’s parking lot next to Modes Bum Steer, to move TCF headquarters across the street to make way for Rotary Square. However, the merger of TCF and Huntington Bank no longer required a new bank location. Instead, Huntington agreed to sell the property in Rotary Square directly to the DDA. Without having to build a new bank headquarters first, the DDA can now proceed much faster with the demolition and construction of Rotary Square.

The move also means the DDA can consider other infill options for Lot G, with three proposals currently on the table from developers to work with the city on a mixed-use project that would include commercial space and workers’ housing. Derenzy says an ad hoc committee will work with the three companies to narrow the options down to a proposal that will be presented to DDA board members and city commissioners for approval. The DDA is also targeting the redesign of Parking Lot O next to the Omelette Shoppe, with HomeStretch and Goodwill Inn selected as a potential development team to bring a five-story building with 64 units to that location. The city is negotiating this project with developers with the aim of drawing up a contract that will be submitted to the city council and city guides for approval.

The DDA has long had a goal of converting above-ground parking spaces into more productive multi-story retail and residential uses. However, that goal is also linked to the construction of a new third downtown public parking deck to be built on West Front Street. The renovation of plots G and O would cause 81 parking spaces in the city center to be lost. Derenzy admits that the DDA “cannot lose all of these parking spaces without this plan for the parking deck in the Westend”. There remain numerous design and funding questions for the deck – which was last estimated at $ 15 to 20 million dollars – but Derenzy says the DDA worked with consultants on options and initially gave city guides a design and layout Could submit funding recommendation quarter of 2022.

Other projects are also progressing in the city center. Derenzy announced Friday that the DDA announced last week – with bids through December 3 – a tender for advisory services to develop full design and construction plans for a new river walkway and pedestrian mall in the alley along the 100 block of Front Street published. The retaining wall along the Boardman River in this alley block is deteriorating, moving a sewer away from the wall and closer to the buildings and replacing the utility lines attached to the main. This major project could allow the DDA to simultaneously redesign the alley, completely remove the wall and open public access to the Boardman with a green space on the riverside.

As part of the tender process, the consultants will also examine design options for the 200-block avenue on Front Street, where the retaining wall also needs to be worked on, but is in better condition than the 100-block. Derenzy notes that the final draft of the Lower Boardman River Unified Plan – a master plan for the 1.6 mile urban stretch of river between Boardman Lake and Grand Traverse Bay – will be presented to city guides for approval at several meetings in December and January. This plan specifically supports projects like redesigning the alley to better connect the community with the Boardman. “The top priority (on the plan) is to improve access to the riverbank,” says Derenzy.

In addition to public projects, private developments are also underway in downtown Traverse City. On Thursday, Golden Swan Management and the Golden family – including Golden Shoes co-owner Bill Golden – announced plans to revitalize the space above the shoe store at 122 East Front Street into a new luxury rental complex called Golden Lofts. Four units – two units with two bedrooms and two units with one bedroom – with “high-end fittings and decorative interiors created from repurposed elements from the building’s past incarnations” will occupy the upper part of the building. Dating from 1883, the historic building has had numerous uses over the years on its upper floors, including functions of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Cherry Festival, and a design during the Vietnam War.

From Monday, visitors to the city center can see the work on the building if the current facade is to be removed.

Photo credit: Mane Content, c / o TC DDA

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