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Major mixed-use redevelopment at Sligh Furniture building approved COURTESY PHOTO

Major mixed-use redevelopment at Sligh Furniture building approved

BY Thursday, April 22, 2021 07:57pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Conceptual plans for a massive mixed-use redevelopment on the block of the Sligh Furniture Co. building received Grand Rapids Planning Commission approval Thursday. 

Detroit-based Sturgeon Bay Partners’ plan to construct 753 apartment units as well as commercial space on the property is now allowed by right and won’t require further commission approval. The commission approved the plan specific to building heights that strayed slightly from zoning requirements.

The development will comprise nearly the entire block where the Sligh Furniture building used to operate at 446 Grandville Ave. SW. Parts of the plan included building heights at six stories, which is one story beyond what the zoning requirement for the transitional city center zone district requires. 

A single story cafe is also proposed in what is planned for a central plaza area of the development, which has a two-story minimum. The discrepancies in building height were approved by planning commissioners under an optional planning review.

“Given its proximity to surrounding buildings and downtown, I think the height makes sense,” Commissioner Kyle Van Strien said during Thursday’s meeting. 

The owner and employees of Lost & Found: Treasures of Old & New antique store — which currently operates in the industrial building — spoke in opposition of the site plan, which could potentially displace businesses operating there. Lost & Found Owner Mark Miller also said he had not been properly notified about the meeting. 

Grand Rapids Planning Director Kristin Turkelson told commissioners that they were voting specifically on the proposed building heights, not the broader site plan. Notices about the planning meeting were sent out according to legal requirements, she added. 

The developer plans to build two mixed-use buildings that will house residential units and commercial space, as well as a one-story cafe. The cafe is meant to serve as an anchor for a green space plaza planned in the middle of the site that will be open to the public and meant to accommodate food trucks. 

A concrete addition to the Sligh Building is planned for demolition, but the historic red-brick building will be preserved, renovated and turned into commercial space on the ground floor with the rest of the building turned into residential units. 

In order to make the project successful we are going to utilize a bunch of different incentives and one is the Historic Tax Credit program,” said Sturgeon Bay Partners co-founder John Gibbs. “In doing so we will designate that building and put it on the national register. We’re not looking to knock the building down, we’re looking to preserve it.”

Gibbs said the company is committed to making at least 10 percent of the housing units in the development affordable at the 60 percent to 80 percent area median income level. 

“We’re very excited about our vision and think we’re going to fill a big need for housing, both affordable and market rate,” Gibbs said. “In addition to that we want to make sure we work with existing tenants in the Sligh Building.”

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