A developer wants to build a grocery store, restaurants, retail and an assisted living facility on a 6.5 acre parcel on East Michigan Avenue.
Several members of council expressed uneasiness with GBA Development LLC’s plans for an 80-room assisted living facility, but the proposal didn’t stop council from extending the city’s purchase agreement with the developer.
In February, the city and GBA Development reached a purchase agreement to sell 6.54 acres of city-owned land on Michigan Avenue, between Zippy’s Auto Wash and The Oaks Shopping Plaza, for $817,500. The original agreement set a 180-day due diligence period. GBA has already exercised a clause that extended that period to Nov. 2. At Monday’s meeting, council voted 7-0 to extend that period another 90 days - until Dec. 18.
City Manager Todd Campbell said GBA has proposed a siteplan that includes retail, restaurants and a grocery store in the front, and an assisted living center on the souther portion of the property. Campbell said the developer needs extra time to secure the tenants it needs to go forward.
Councillor Dean Girbach said the assisted said the assisted living proposal was a change that caused him concern.
“It’s a proposal this council should seriously consider. But at least it’s an attempt to potentially sell this property,” Girbach said.
Councillor Janet Dillon was more pointed.
“It’s quite a deviation from the anticipated use and the assisted living proposal is definitely a concern. It would require more city services, including police, fire, EMS and water usage,” Dillon said. “But I don’t think it impacts the extension of the due diligence period.”
Councillor Christen Mitchell noted that it appeared the proposal would require more parking - or more impermeable surfaces. That means more runoff - which can be an environmental concern. Mitchell asked Campbell if the zoning allowed for an assisted living development. Campbell said that since it was zoned SPA1, it was a proper use.
Proper zoning or not, Mitchell wasn’t enthused about the idea.
“I don’t understand how assisted living quite fits. I really don’t like the fact that the assisted living center is there,” Mitchell said.
The proposal also included a medical center near the assisted living center. That idea appealed to Councillor Heidi McClelland. But, like other council members, she wasn’t enthusiastic about the assisted living facility.
Girbach said the rationale for the assisted living center might be to help out the proposed grocery store. Councillor Linda TerHaar said as she understood assisted living, she didn’t think it would lead to residents walking to the store to buy groceries.
Girbach said he was also somewhat concerned that the owner of the assisted living center might be a non-profit, tax-free enterprise. The city previously identified the conversion of dormant land to tax-generating land as a key motivation for selling the property.
Councillor Jack Ceo said he was not enamored with the idea of an assisted living center on the property.
Mayor Brian Marl said GBA Development LLC officials will like address council with its proposal at a work session before the second November meeting or first December meeting.
Lot 20A is the last city-owned parcel on East Michigan Avenue. A previous sale led to the development of Zippy’s Auto Wash. Another sale led to the ongoing development of the Best Western Premiere hotel and the future development of a new home for Junga Ace Hardware.