- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Downtown Traverse City is expected to get a little bigger as plans move forward for a pair of nine-story buildings along the Boardman River.

City planners voted 5-2 this week to approve a permit that will allow Pine Street Development One to construct the mixed-use development amid debate about how the buildings might affect the character of the popular northern Michigan tourist destination.

“These structures are monolithic in size and do not fit in a harmonious manner and are not cohesive with the streetscape,” said Ellen Corcoran, who lives in the adjacent Riverview Terrace. “Traverse City’s resort-town image is greatly disturbed by the sheer size of this development.”

The buildings will be the first in the city to have nine stories, pushing up to city sidewalks and standing 10 feet from the river’s edge, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1W3B3Rc ). The project needed special approval because it’s taller than the city’s typical building height limits.

City and county economic development officials lauded the project, calling increased density and housing opportunities vital to the city’s continued growth. Developers said that about a third of the apartments will be subsidized workforce housing.

The developers’ representative, Doug Mansfield of Mansfield Land Use Consultants, has said that the cost of land and construction will push more developers to look at nine-story structures. Five-story buildings currently are allowed in downtown.

“If I start losing stories the whole project just starts falling apart,” he said.

Opponents argued the 177 parking spaces slated for the project aren’t adequate for 162 apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail space. City resident Geraldine Greene said there may be change in store for city building heights, but she urged planners not to make it a nine-story change.

“If you want a sea change then you have to be honest and speak to the issue of roads and parking of cars,” Greene said.

The Pine Street Development One proposal likely wouldn’t be unique for long, Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes has said. Two other developers indicated interest in tall buildings.

“It would be pretty hard to reject a request for nine stories in the future if we approve this one,” Estes said. “And if you think parking is a problem now, just wait.”

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com


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