Grand Haven

New residential development proposed for downtown Grand Haven

The Grand Haven City Council will soon decide if downtown’s largest residential development should move forward.

Councilmembers on Nov. 2 will receive public input and determine if key components to a 133- unit condominium and apartment development should get the final nod later in November.

The public can take part in the 7:30 p.m. virtual meeting that will be streamed on the Grand Haven Facebook page, WAWL and YouTube. Comments can be made by posting them on Facebook or by calling the city at 616-402-0815 during the hearing.

At the Nov. 2 meeting, the council will consider introductory resolutions, with final approval slated for the council’s Nov. 16 meeting. But final approval could be pushed later if the council decides to delay voting on the proposals at the Nov. 2 meeting. 

What developer wants

Dubbed Peerless Flats (formerly Jackson Flats), the proposed development is known as the Stanco property that’s been owned by the Slagel family for more than 100 years. The proposed site is bounded by Jackson, Fulton, First and Second streets, in proximity to Grand Haven’s waterfront.

The development sits on 4.66 acres and was originally proposed to be a mix of fair and affordable housing, but developer Kevin McGraw, president of River Caddis Development LLC in East Lansing, dropped the “affordable” aspect last year.

McGraw is seeking the council’s approval for an update to a zoning ordinance, adoption of a Brownfield plan and the merger of two city blocks into one development parcel.

Groundbreaking plan

Groundbreaking is slated for April 2021, with completion projected in spring and summer of 2022, according to McGraw. Cost of the development remains to be determined.

“We’re still working on total project costs and don’t want to be misleading,” McGraw says.

“This is the largest proposed residential development in downtown Grand Haven that I am aware of,” says Jennifer Howland, the city’s Community Development Manager. “Our hope is that with more full-time residents living downtown, our local business community will benefit by seeing additional shoppers, and there will be more vibrancy and activity in the downtown area.”

The Planning Commission approved the site plan last year.

Vacating Elliott Avenue

Specifics surrounding the 148,341-square-foot development include constructing 124 rental apartments, ranging from studio to three-bedroom units; nine owner-occupied townhome/condominiums along Second Street; four apartment buildings; and an amenity building with a conference room and fitness center, a gathering area, a kitchen, and terrace.

“The developer needs approval from the city council because their design departs from traditional zoning requirements,” says Howland. “That’s why they are pursuing a planned development ordinance. They intend to merge two city blocks into one development parcel, so they are seeking to have the public street between the two blocks (Elliott Avenue) vacated.”

Rental rates will be released about five months before tenants occupy the building, according to McGraw. Studio apartments will be 550 square feet; one-bedroom units will be 700 square feet to 800 square feet; 950 to 1,150 square feet for two-bedroom units; and 1,700 square feet for three-bedroom units.

A plus for the city

McGraw says the development will be a plus for the lakeshore city because of its key location and pent-up demand for its year-round quality of life.

“Grand Haven is a very popular place to visit and to live,” he says. “We expect to have very high demand for these units, given the proximity to downtown and the waterfront.”

Extensive environmental contamination has made it vital to clean up the site, says McGraw, explaining the need for a Brownfield plan.

“It is important to note that the vast majority of the existing contamination flowed onto this property from offsite,” says McGraw. “This is an opportunity to take vacant land and basically dirt parking lots, and turn them into something that adds to the texture of Grand Haven. Adding density to downtowns is happening across the country. This project brings that concept to Grand Haven on a smaller, but important scale. We hope it will help support downtown businesses and maybe even encourage others to bring their businesses to the downtown area.”
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