New development eyed for Bil-Mar site

Alex Doty • Mar 22, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Could a new project be on the horizon for the site of the Bil-Mar Restaurant on Lake Michigan?

The Grand Haven Planning Commission heard from Leeward Ventures LLC about their proposed project at 1223 S. Harbor Drive — known as The Beacon — during a special meeting Tuesday night at the Community Center.

“Our goal for this project is a beautiful, exciting waterfront structure to replace the old Bil-Mar, and to do what’s responsible,” developer Brian Papke said.

If the planned unit development is approved, the existing Bil-Mar Restaurant would be razed. In its place would be a 2,049-square-foot restaurant and six condominium units, plus space for two efficiency units.

“We’re looking to scrape (the Bil-Mar) off the ground and build a whole new building set back farther from the street,” Papke said.

The current plans show the condos having street-level parking on the first floor, with bedroom and living space on the second and third floors.

The restaurant space would seat 102 customers, smaller than the existing Bil-Mar. The goal, developers say, would be for the restaurant to be open year-round.

“We were focused on a nice space that’s filled,” Papke said.

The proposed height of the building is 30 feet, with additional height in some spots for rooftop HVAC units and architectural details, including a lighthouse on the northeast corner of the building.

Papke noted that plans for a rooftop deck were eliminated in order to comply with a 40-year covenant placed on the site about a decade ago. The covenant include limitations on how tall a new building can be on the site.

“We really wanted to go in with the assumption that we’re going to keep within the covenants that were struck between the neighbors, and keep this to the right scale for the property in terms of height, construction type (and) parking,” he said.

Developers are expected to return to the Planning Commission for its April meeting to see if the project is ready to be set for a public hearing, which would likely take place in May.

Planning commissioners held off on scheduling a public hearing on Tuesday night, as there were questions about some of the project’s environmental impacts, the public benefit of the project, and some questions about architectural embellishments and how they fit in with the restrictive covenant.

Developers will also need to come to an agreement with the city on new lease terms for the parking lot just to the north of the Bil-Mar, and developers would need to seek a review from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Following a Planning Commission recommendation, Grand Haven City Council would eventually have final say on the planned unit development portion of the project.

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