The City of Saline will give GBA Development another eight months to determine whether or not it wants to buy and develop 6.5 acres of land on East Michigan Avenue.
Saline City Council voted 6-0 Monday night to extend its purchase and development agreement with GBA, which is hoping for a $17-18 million investment on the property. It’s the second extension council has granted. The original deal, struck in February, called for GBA to pay $817,500 for Lot 20A, which is the last of the city-owned parcels with Michigan Avenue frontage. The lot is located between The Oaks Shopping Plaza and Zippy Autowash.
Two weeks ago, council expressed some hesitation with GBA’s new plans for the property. Phase one of the development would be a 15,000 to 20,000 square-foot grocery store along Michigan Avenue. Phase two would include retail and restaurants. But council balked at GBA’s plans for an assisted living facility on the back part of the parcel. Several council members, including Mayor Brian Marl and Councillor Dean Girbach, openly wondered if multi-family housing would be a better fit at a work session Dec. 2.
But by Monday night, most of the concern with an assisted living facility had dissipated.
Marl said his personal preference remained with apartments, but after a conversation with GBA representatives, he’d changed his mind.
“I think there's a lot of pent up demand in the marketplace for(apartments). There is also demand for assisted living and senior living and I came to the conclusion after some research and after a robust and thoughtful dialogue with the partners from GBA that the configuration and dimension of this lot make multifamily very, very difficult,” Marl said.
“I look forward to continuing to work with my friends with GBA to move this project forward because transferring this from public ownership to private ownership, creating businesses, creating additional jobs, and developing a new revenue stream to support city services is critically important,” Marl said.
Marl said apartments would cause more asphalt and the expense of moving utilities.
Councilors Jack Ceo, Dean Girbach, Linda TerHaar and Heidi McClelland expressed similar thoughts.
Ceo said he, too, was initially hesitant about assisted living on the parcel. But he recently read an article on aging in place.
“The article talks about aging in place and what are communities doing to enhance people's ability to stay in the community where they are and successfully and gracefully age in place.
So the more I thought about it the more I thought your presentation made good sense,” Ceo said.
Councilor Janet Dillon eventually voted for the proposal, but she continued to express concern about the assisted living facility.
“I will say frankly that I'm still very concerned about putting an assisted living at that location. When we initially discussed that property and proposals were brought forward to council the reason that we chose GBA over another plan was that it was going to be a destination property. It was going to have retail. It was going to have restaurants. And it was going to have entertainment. It would be a destination,” Dillon lamented. “It doesn't really match our master plan or our vision for that property.”
Dillon said she thought affordable housing would be a better fit for the property.
Despite those concerns, the vote was unanimous.
GBA also agreed to put another $10,000 in escrow.
The due diligence period was extended to Aug. 18, 2020. The closing date would be no later than Sept. 18, 2020, according to the agreement.