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Sunday, 04 January 2015 16:00

Orion plans $7.4M mixed-use project for East Fulton site

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A Grand Rapids neighborhood could be getting a new mixed-use development on the site where developers failed to move ahead with a proposed gas station that proved controversial for local stakeholders.

Orion Construction of Grand Rapids plans a mixed-use residential and retail development at the corner of Fulton Street and Carlton Avenue SE, the developer told MiBiz.

The $7.4 million project, currently dubbed One Carlton Place, will include 44 rental units with a mix of regular apartments and ground-floor townhomes, along with ground-floor retail and restaurant space, said John Wheeler, Orion’s director of business development.

Orion’s plans come on the heels of a failed proposal by SpartanNash Co. in September to build a gas station and convenience store on the location, which sits across the street from the company’s Family Fare store on East Fulton Street. However, those plans drew protests from area residents and the Eastown Neighborhood Association, which felt a gas station would not be the highest and best use for the land. The Grand Rapids Planning Commission ultimately shot down the proposal in November.

The developer expects to close on the real estate in February. The property is currently owned by F & C Building Co., according to county records.

Given the controversial nature of the previous proposal for the site, the timing for Orion’s project should be ideal, Wheeler said.

“The gas station was pretty heated,” Wheeler said, adding that Orion wanted to let the fallout from the gas station project calm before announcing this project. “You had 70 people speaking against that gas station. We want 70 people speaking for our project.”

Other details about the project were scant as Orion has yet to present its plans to the Grand Rapids Planning Commission or to the neighborhood association. Final renderings were not yet available as this report went to press.

The developer plans to seek TIF dollars and brownfield redevelopment credits to get the project off the ground, Wheeler said. Orion hopes to break ground in mid-2015.

The Fulton-Carlton development comes as Orion is in the process of two other neighborhood developments in Grand Rapids, including The Gateway at Belknap apartment complex north of downtown and the Eastown Flats project on Wealthy Street SE, also in the Eastown neighborhood.

“(We think) it really fits what the neighborhood wants and if we have to sit through six or eight months of listening to what the neighborhood wants, we will,” Wheeler said. “We are not in a hurry to make a mistake.”

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