2017-07-27 / Front Page

Developer hopes to convert Viridian into condos

Former OneUp Web building
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

A landmark water-front office building in Greilickville that had been on the market with a $4.9 million price tag may be turned into a residential condo building.

Located on S. West Bay Shore Drive (M-22) opposite Rennie Road in Elmwood Township, a building currently being called the “Viridian” building may soon become the “West Point Condominiums.”

The Elmwood Township Planning Commission last week heard from representatives of a developer who hopes to purchase the office building and convert it into 11 residential condo units.

An additional four residential units would be constructed in a separate building on the 2.26-acre parcel, which includes 634 feet of West Grand Traverse Bay water-frontage. The project would result in the creation of 15 waterfront residential condo units in total.

“It’s very exciting to see this kind of redevelopment here,” said Sara Kopriva, Elmwood Township zoning administrator and land use planner.

The current owner of the building is a corporation controlled by Lisa Wehr, now a seasonal Leelanau County resident, who formerly owned and operated an Internet services firm in the building, OneUpWeb. Wehr sold her business in 2014; and OneUpWeb has since moved into Grand Traverse County.

More recently, Wehr has been leasing office space and trying to sell the re-named “Viridian” building that once housed her business. The building is listed for sale on a real estate website for $4.9 million. Wehr purchased the building in 2007 for $4 million from the Howard Energy Company, according to publicly available real estate records.

The brick-faced and concrete building with an enclosed parking area on the ground level was built in 1985. Howard Energy purchased the building in 1993 for $2.1 million.

The building is located north of Carter Road opposite Rennie Road where a Marathon Petroleum tank farm was formerly located. The tanks were demolished and removed earlier this year. Marathon Petroleum officials have declined to release any information about their plans for the former tank farm.

The prospective new owner of the building and the official applicant for a site plan review from the Elmwood Township Planning Commission is a company called Northporte Development, L.L.C., headed by Michael Niedzielski, with an Interlochen address.

Niedzielski did not return a phone call from an Enterprise reporter. However, the prospective buyer’s representative, project engineer Dusty Christensen of Mansfield Land Use Consultants, said he was encouraged by the reception the project received at the July 18 Elmwood Township Planning Commission meeting.

“There are still a few loose ends that need to be tied up, and we plan to appear before the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 2,” Christensen said. “We hope to be back before the Planning Commission later next month to gain approval so this project can begin moving forward.”

Kopriva explained that none of the “loose ends” the Zoning Board of Appeals will need to look are major. One is an apparent contradiction in the current Zoning Ordinance related to a formula used to determine the number of allowable units; another question relates to whether the building will need a “dry hydrant” on the waterfront for firefighting even though it is already hooked up to a municipal water system; and a third consideration has to do with the amount of buffer space needed near the state highway to accommodate emergency vehicle access.

The existing building has 23,000 square-feet of office space on two floors above the ground-level parking garage. Part of a parking area outside the existing building would be used to accommodate a new four-unit condo building.

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