2017-12-07 / Life in Leelanau

Greilickville project overcoming obstacles; work soon for hotel

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


WEST SHORE Hotel and Marina will replace several old structures including a former oil storage depot on 11 acres along M-22 in Elmwood Township as part of an ongoing Brownfield Redevelopment project. WEST SHORE Hotel and Marina will replace several old structures including a former oil storage depot on 11 acres along M-22 in Elmwood Township as part of an ongoing Brownfield Redevelopment project. Despite some hurdles, the developer of an 81-unit hotel with a 28-slip marina on West Grand Traverse Bay in Greilickville is moving forward.

Traverse City developer Ron Walters, a principal of West Shore Partners, L.L.C., has agreed to pay the Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority $15,000 to get his project over one of those hurdles.

He thought the bill was pricey.

“It was more than I wanted to pay, but they’ve got a $15,000 minimum on a project like mine even though I don’t think the tax increment financing we’ll get will be as much as anyone hopes,” Walters said.

Generally, the fee paid by developers equals one-percent of what the developer expects to receive in reimbursements through tax increment financing (TIF).

Walters is working with the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to redevelop the former Zephyr Oil property, which occupies 11 acres along M-22 in Greilickville. The cost of much of the cleanup and other Brownfield-eligible activities on the property may be paid for in part through TIF, which is based on the difference between the taxable value of the undeveloped property and its taxable value once it is fully developed.

The head of the county’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Trudy Galla, said an agreement reached last week with Walters will allow the authority to send a work plan to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. If approved, much of the expense Walters and his partners have absorbed in cleaning up the site may be reimbursed to them over time through TIF.

“So, we’re making progress, but things just keep coming up on a project like this – and there’s a reason no one has tried anything like this on this property before,” Walters said.

He said a recent sub-surface geological study of the site revealed that the soils are not compacted enough to support the hotel he hopes to build in the west side of M-22. As a result, the developer will need to sink 400 to 500 pilings in the ground before constructing a foundation for the structure.

“Those pilings going in are what people will see happening next on the property,” Walters said. “We hope to get that done in December.”

Last week contractors were finishing cleanup after demolishing two old, vacant houses on the property. Two other commercial buildings that have not been in use for years are also coming down.

“And then, we’ve been having some issues with Consumer’s Energy that threw us for a loop,” Walters added. “It’s taking them a bit longer than we or they anticipated to remove some underground utilities on the property.”

Walters said he is still hopeful, however, that about half of the planned 81 hotel units will be available for occupancy by next summer. In addition, work will proceed apace on building a marina in place of the old Zephyr Oil dock, whose pipes were used to transport petroleum from barges to storage tanks formerly located on the property.

Plans call for the marina to accommodate 28 larger yachts, with slip sizes ranging from 50 to 70 feet in length.

Once the West Shore Hotel & Marina project is completed, hopefully by 2019, it is expected to bring 10 to 12 new fulltime jobs to Elmwood Township, Walters said.

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