Self-Storage Proposed as Part of Mixed-Use Development in Grand Haven, MI

A proposal for a mixed-use project including self-storage in Grand Haven, Mich., is facing scrutiny from town officials after the developers made changes to the site plan, which was first reviewed last year. Real estate developers Chad Bush and Ben Robbins presented their idea for the property at 17114 Robbins Road, just east of 172nd Avenue, to Grand Haven Township officials on Feb. 19. Robbins Centre Pointe would include five apartment buildings with a total of 132 units, 88 enclosed garages, a clubhouse and pool, as well as three self-storage structures, according to the source.

Town officials took issue with the changes because they no longer meet the standards outlined for a planned-unit development (PUD), under which the project falls. If the standards are met, the developers would be allowed to request variances on other zoning issues. Most notably, changes were made to the proposed pricing and sizes of the apartments, which would be designed for the elderly and people with disabilities, mobility issues and other needs, the source reported.

“It became evident the initial representations provided by the developer will no longer be included in the planned-unit development, which are affordable rental rates and fully accessible apartments with a universal design of the complex,” said Stacey Fedewa, community development director. “It is unfortunate these two attributes will no longer be part of the project to the extent anticipated.”

The developers would partner on the residential complex with Gracious Grounds, a nonprofit that provides housing for individuals with disabilities. Apartment sizes would begin at 730 square feet, even though 884 square feet is required under the PUD.

In addition, the proposed rental rates, ranging from $800 to $1,100 a month, weren’t considered affordable per the local Neighborhood Housing Services program. A one-bedroom apartment should rent for no more than $656 per month, with a two-bedroom at less than $820 per month, Fedewa said. “Without the affordability, or some other benefit, the minimum unit size will have to increase to at least 884 square feet,” she added.

The developers defended the rental rates, claiming they were looking to be 15 percent to 20 percent below market rate for 30 percent to 40 percent of the project. The numbers quoted during the township meeting were approximate and would depend on the developers’ ability to lower construction costs, Bush said. “We’re looking to develop market-rate apartments and be on the affordable end of the spectrum,” he added.

It was also unusual for a developer to apply for a mixed-use PUD that includes multi-family residential and self-storage, officials said. Another conflict is the developers’ ownership of self-storage units on 172nd Avenue, a nonconforming use in the area. Early discussions about the mixed-use project indicated the units would be demolished or sold.

“Removing a nonconforming use in a highly visible corridor would be a direct benefit that would enable the township to approve the unusual request of a multi-family/industrial mixed-use development,” Fedewa said. “Unfortunately, it appears the developer is unwilling to relinquish the storage units on 172nd Avenue, which will result in the township being unable to grant a departure for additional storage in a residential development.”

The site currently houses the headquarters for Bill Tysman Cos., which provides landscape materials, snow removal and trucking services. The company also offers mobile storage and operates two self-storage facilities, Grand Haven Mini Storage​ at 15133 172nd Ave. in Grand Haven, and Spring Lake Mini Storage​ at 17097 148th Ave. in Spring Lake, Mich. The existing structures would be demolished in phases to allow the company to relocate, the source reported.

The township asked the developers to review the feedback provided during the meeting, revise their plans and resubmit them, the source reported.

Sources:
Grand Haven Tribune, Developers Eye New Apartment Complex on Robbins Road
Bill Tysman Cos., Website

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