Parking request for proposals tabled | Local News
TRAVERSE CITY – Four parking lots in Traverse City are the focus of two separate but related advances for replenishment or redevelopment, but proposals for three of them will have to wait a little longer.
The city commissioners unanimously agreed on Monday that they would wait for a draft call for proposals until they see which developers believe they can build in Lot G. The urban downtown development agency is currently requesting information on what type of mixed-use buildings could be used in the parking lot, near State and Union roads.
The submission for Lot G is scheduled for April 15th. A formal presentation is scheduled for late May or early June, DDA CEO Jean Derenzy said earlier.
City commissioners could get a sneak peek if the information is in by their April 19th meeting. They agreed to postpone further examination of their own call for proposals for lots O, T and X until then or possibly later.
Waiting wasn’t the first choice for Commissioner Tim Werner, whose December request to consider options for the three lots ultimately led Mission North Director (and former DDA Executive Director) Rob Bacigalupi to draft a call for proposals .
But if this interested other city commissioners in redeveloping the land – an idea he’s long been campaigning for – he could wait, he said.
“If it is necessary to wait a few weeks to keep the conversation going, this is not my preferred approach. However, if it is necessary to keep the conversation going, that’s my concern,” said Werner.
The draft contains guidelines for building commissioners, established in a handful of meetings, including the need to rent a significant number of apartments at affordable prices. In particular, they would be affordable at rents that are affordable to people who earn 70 to 120 percent of the Grand Traverse County’s median area income, as defined by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
Commissioner Christie Minervini said she wanted a definition of what “substantial” means and stricter limits on building construction. While the draft application said the focus would be on year-round rentals, she wanted condos on lockdown immediately.
While she agreed to put a deed restriction on the land to ensure achievable rents stay that way, doing so would affect land value. So she questioned a line in the inquiry that would lead the city to sell the land at market prices.
“Maybe we would even look at a discount, maybe 50 percent of the market price, if we put an act restriction,” she said, adding that this was one of several other provisions in the draft that seemed too vague.
Any development should focus on meeting the greatest housing needs in the area, said Mayor Jim Carruthers. He pointed to studies that found the largest and second largest needs in those with incomes less than $ 26,000 and those with earnings between $ 40,000 and $ 40,000, respectively.
Carruthers said young professionals can open up options, with new homes being built in the $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 monthly range.
Some of these young professionals looking for housing have been considering leaving Traverse City because of the tight market, Traverse City Young Professionals Connor Miller told commissioners. The organization supported the city’s attempt to renovate the above-ground parking spaces as mixed-use buildings with new houses.
Minervini questioned other details of the design, such as: For example, what kind of public relations the city would do to get feedback on the suggestions and some assurances that developers would consider these contributions.
Getting public funding might be especially important for Lot T on the corner of Union Street and Grandview Parkway. Commissioners admitted redevelopment plans would likely be controversial as it is an important parking lot for the nearby Sara Hardy Farmers Market as well as for businesses and employees in the downtown area.
Bacigalupi said the city could turn to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for public relations.
City-resident Rick Buckhalter told commissioners that any commentary session should be conducted in person, not online. He especially wanted to hear from business owners who were being harmed by the loss of downtown parking.
“We need to have these people in front of a microphone and tell you what to hear,” he said.
Two of the lots – X and T – adjoin urban walkways along the Boardman River, and Commissioner Brian McGillivary said the draft needed to clarify what would happen to public access along the riverbanks. He also wanted a clearer indication of whether Traverse City Light & Power would release Lot X – the land and adjacent Hall Street substation are owned by the city utility.
Otherwise, McGillivary was comfortable with a more open question. So also Werner, who expressed concerns about making the housing needs too narrow. For example, a developer can use a high-priced condominium to draw more accessible apartments in the same building.
City guides agreed to send Bacigalupi their proposed changes to further refine the design.