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Site plan approved for new Centertown development

Alex Doty • May 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The look of Centertown along Washington Avenue will be slightly different in the coming months. 

Grand Haven planning commissioners Tuesday night conditionally approved the site plan for a new two-story building located at 707 Washington Ave., the site of the former Harbourfront Hobbies & Crafts.

“The two-story building will be 5,264 square feet, with 2,755 square feet on the main level and 2,509 square feet on the second floor,” City Community Development Manager Jennifer Howland said.

The second floor of the building will include two residential units, while the main level will include retail space fronting Washington Avenue.

Property owners Lisa and William Passinault, who own the adjacent Morningstar Cafe, have noted that the new space will allow for more “back of the house” room for the restaurant, including additional kitchen and storage space. Building architect Denny Dryer noted that the new space will also include a connection in the back that links to the rear of Morningstar Cafe via a two-hour fire-rated door.

During the Planning Commission meeting, William Passinault noted that plans for the retail space haven’t been finalized.

Included in the development will be a small, four-space parking lot at the rear of the building, with enough space to accommodate the two residential units.

On May 1, City Council unanimously approved a parking exemption request for the commercial space at the development.

“They do not need to provide any on-street parking for the commercial use,” Howland said.

The city’s Zoning Ordinance states that City Council can waive the parking requirements for property in an area where a parking lot was specially assessed. The property is located in the Centertown Overlay District of the city’s Neighborhood Mixed Use zoning district. The district was created to fulfill the Grand Haven Main Street program’s desire to allow for increased density in Centertown.

Conditions of the site plan approval include a requirement that the second floor of the building meets the 40 percent transparency requirement of the Zoning Ordinance, that signage be limited to the first floor and approved by the city, and a stipulation that all building materials meet city requirements.

Proposed building materials on the building’s exterior include tongue-and-groove wood siding and ground-face cement block — the latter of which garnered some discussion between planning commissioners and city officials.

According to the city’s Zoning Ordinance, Neighborhood Mixed Use developments must have a minimum 80 percent brick, stone or wood lap or cement board siding, and officials questioned whether the concrete block would meet that requirement.

Dryer said the stone is suitable to meet the brick requirement. He said the block was ground down, and then the stone on the block was polished to a decorative finish.

“There’s a lot to choose from — from almost pure black, to almost pure white, and everything in between,” the architect said. 

Dryer noted that the materials were chosen to give the development a more modern look. He said he would provide the Community Development Department with samples of the proposed building materials.

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