Council Notebook: Updates on Emagine Theater, Zippy Car Wash, Hotel and More

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 12/13/2016 - 01:49
Mayor Pro-Tem David Rhoads and Council Member Dean Girbach converse at the council table.

Saline City Council dealt with three proposed developments at Monday’s meeting.

At a Council work meeting in September, Corey and Michelle Weaver presented a proposal to build a Zippy’s Auto Wash on lot 19 of the Sauk Trail Business park. It would be their third location in the area.

Council later showed a favorable disposition to the proposal, but some details were still being worked out. At the Monday meeting, city attorney Nick Curcio reviewed details in a proposed purchase agreement between the Weavers and the city.

He noted that in its current form the plan is for the city to sell only 2.83 acres of lot 19. This omits a portion of the lot at the back (south) end. The purchase price would still be $500,000.

The access road that the Weavers want to design, build and maintain would be used for access to a proposed hotel and hardware store as well as to the auto wash. It is actually on land within lot 18, so changes in the agreement are needed.

Neither the Junga group who are making plans for the hotel and hardware store not the Weavers want to develop under a Planned Unit Development (PUD) arrangement, but they do want the space to have a unified look. To deal with this, the purchase agreement includes language that will ultimately bind both groups to accept common standards for signage, pavement markings and landscaping.

Council Member Girbach observed that in the current form, Zippy’s agrees that the car wash “may include” various advanced “green’ features. He noted that Corey Weaver had previously promised that such things would definitely be part of the plan.

Weaver said that it was written that way so that he would have the leeway to incorporate greater improvements should they become available. Girbach then asked that they change the wording so that it would indicate that the construction would contain “similar or higher” levels of green technology to what they originally proposed.

Council member Jack Ceo, who missed the previous meeting with the Weavers, asked questions about whether the Junga group was in agreement (they are) and what would happen to the property in the back. He was told that the land would be added to lot 20.

The additional land would increase the size of lot 20 to over five acres. It would have somewhat of an “L” shape. It is large enough that it could be split and used for perhaps two new businesses.

“We will try to use it as efficiently as possible,” said realtor Tony Caprarese.

When the issue came to a vote, mayor Brian Marl said that he was “a proud patron of Zippy’s car washes,” but he was “less than enthusiastic” about approving this proposal. Nevertheless, he voted with the majority.

The proposal to approve the plan was amended with the words, “subject to approval and execution of Council action on the lot 18 addendum, and subject to clarifying changes acceptable to the City Manager, Mayor and City Attorney.” When put to a vote, approval was unanimous.

Maple Heights Apartments Renovations Almost Done

This past year extensive rehabilitation work has taken place at Maple Heights Apartments off Maple Road. The city had approved an ordinance in 2013 providing a property tax exemption to assist PK Housing and Management Company in their efforts to rehabilitate the Saline apartment complex. The project is nearing completion.

City Assessor Catherine Scull and Peter Potterpin, owner of PK Housing and Management Company, came forward to speak. They provided additional information on the process of exemption approval.

Scull explained that she had recently received official certification for tax-exempt status from Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). She also received invoices from Potterpin showing that upgrades by PK “have now surpassed the required minimum of $1,450,000,” the expenditure needed to qualify for exemption.

Potterpin thanked the city staff and Council members for their help and cooperation throughout the project. He said that of the many cities where they have projects, Saline had been “one of the most easy to work with.”

“The finish line is in sight,” Potterpin said. “We’re real close on finishing everything at the apartments with the new clubhouse and everything. I think within two weeks we should be 100 percent complete there.”

Council Agrees to Hotel Partners' Request to Change Deal

Council also revisited the purchase agreement between the city and the Junga group for building a hotel and hardware store on lot 18. It was expanded to deal with some new concerns such as the desire for a unified look with lot 19.

Again, Curcio took the lead, reviewing proposed wording. He noted that subsequent to earlier plans, the hotel designers realized they would have to move the building 24 feet to the west because the rerouted powerlines would not be built directly on the property line.

Curcio also answered questions about a new clause which allows Junga to “convey some of the property to those to develop the proposed hotel.” As the buyers have arranged it, Jim Junga first purchases the property, then splits it so that the Best Western Hotel can own the land that it sits on.

Council members were concerned that this was rather unconventional and feared that it would not hold Junga or the hotel people to fulfil the original plan. Curcio tried to assure them that the contract indeed confined them to uphold the deal.

When the terms of the agreement came to a vote, the outcome was much less unified. It was approved by a margin of 4 to 3, with Girbach, Heidi McClelland and Janet Dillon voting “Nay.”

Emagine On Time

The redevelopment of the former grocery store at 1335 E. Michigan Ave.

into an Emagine movie theater is continuing on schedule. To move help move the project forward, City Council had earlier cleared the way for the theater to obtain a Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate

There were no objections to the application. Emagine Entertainment Ceo Paul Glantz still expects that the theater will be able to open mid-February.

Three Oaks Development Delayed

The Three Oaks Group won the bid to develop land at 600 N. Maple last April. The project, to be called Maple Oaks would include housing for the developmentally disabled.

Subsequently the project has been held up by difficulties in arranging with American Tower Company to relocate the access road to their nearby cell phone tower. There had already been one extension granted to Three Oaks and on Monday they asked for another.

Bill Godfrey, co-founder and a principal of Three Oaks, was present at the meeting. Girbach apologized to him for the delays which Marl referred to as “bureaucratic foot-shuffling.”

Marl also made it clear that the city is excited about the project.

 “I think it’s going to be great for our community and I ultimately think it will be emulated throughout Southeast Michigan and maybe even the Midwest,” Marl said.

Council voted unanimously to grant Three Oaks a 90-day extension on purchasing the property. This would mean that the deal should close on or before March 18, 2017.

Road Markings Approved

The next issue was a proposed contract with PK Contracting of Troy to paint pavement markings on major city streets and at 28 intersections. The cost would be a little over $31,000.

Mayor Pro Tem Rhoads wanted to know how soon it could be done, especially because of his concern with an improperly marked section on N. Ann Arbor Street. Fordice said that the overrun of the Michigan Avenue project has caused some delay, but it should be possible to work anytime that the pavement is dry.

Henry Street Traffic To Be Studied

Traffic concerns on Henry Street were raised at the last Council meeting and the discussion continued on Monday. Fordice said that a study will be done in March after traffic is more normalized after the disruption due to construction.

Fordice said that traffic would be studied on West Henry and the intersection with Ann Arbor Street. Comments from Girbach and Marl led the council to ask for a study on East Henry Street as well.

Andy Hatfield, who lives on W. Henry, commented that the city should take the time to talk to the people on the frontline.

“I think there’s a great chance that we could organize a focus group or some kind of conversation before about how this study would be done, what the concerns of the people that live there are and maybe take the pulse of the community before that’s done and definitely before deciding what we’d like to do,” Hatfield said.

Bucktooth Beaver Spit

There was an extensive consent agenda dealing mostly with financial matters. Council member Dean Girbach asked that bill payment be held out of the agreement for discussion, but the rest was approved unanimously.

“I apologize for this, Girbach said in regard to the bill payments. “I think we all just noticed this tonight. We’re just curious to know what Beaver Research Company’s bill for ‘Bucktooth Beaver Snot’ is.”

DPW Director Fordice explained that Beaver Research likes to use creative names for products and that “Beaver Snot” is a type of grease. With this cleared up, the rest of the consent agenda was approved.

Council Approves Capital Improvement Plan

In a previous meeting, Council had considered approval of a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) plan for the city. Council had sent it back for reworking, noting several deficiencies.

This week Campbell brought it back in amended form. The earlier version failed to mention an anticipated cost of over a million dollars for repairing the Rec Center roof and another planned payout for a new sidewalk along Michigan Avenue from the bridge west to Austin Road.

With these missing data filled in and concerns about road names addressed, Council unanimously approved the document without further discussion.

Next Meeting

Next Monday, December 12, at 6:00 p.m., Council will have a work session lasting about one hour to discuss changes in the city’s Building and Engineering Department. The next regular meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. on December 19.


Bob Conradi's picture
Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Reach him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.