2011 and Earlier / News

'Fair' offer good for Greilickville, county

Elmwood Township can live with or without the Brewery Creek property.

But the township — and all of Leelanau County, for that matter — is better off with the portion of the Brewery Creek development that fell into default being in public hands.

The reason is future planning. Greilickville is now like two communities — one along the shoreline, and one along the west side of M-22. In many cases, commercial lots lie on both sides of M-22, causing tie-ups and safety issues with pedestrians trying to gain access to Grand Traverse Bay.

Elmwood’s purchase of 16 acres of Brewery Creek could help immensely. The Township Board by a 4-2 vote last week offered $375,000 for the property, which will come with a $269,000 lien owed to Traverse City Light and Power for overhead lighting infrastructure installed by the public utility. The township had previously offered $130,000 in cash and a pledge to pay off the lien.

The township’s first attempt was akin to a fire sale offer. The latest bid seems realistic given today’s climate for commercial real estate, and the difficulty encountered by previous developers in following through on an aggressive plan for commercial and residential improvements.

The entrance to the development, which is home to a jewelry store, Subway store, chiropractic clinic and lots of empty pavement, lies across M-22 from the drive leading to the Elmwood Township marina. The township is mulling options for marina improvements, and just last year completely renovated its shoreline park. But both are in need of overflow parking, a problem that would be solved through public ownership of a large portion of Brewery Creek.

The purchase will also provide some clarity to owners of the businesses, which are quite successful despite the failure of the development.

Perhaps more important to all of Leelanau County, Elmwood’s ownership of both sides of a strip of M-22 lends momentum to an effort to address traffic congestion and safety concerns.

A task force comprised of many players, including representatives of the Great Lakes Discovery Center just down the road, is looking into ways to calm traffic and improve the look of Greilickville. Options on the board are creation of a crosswalk with signal, installation of a stop light or even construction of an overhead walkway similar to that used for decades at the Charters Traverse City State Park.

Should the purchase go through, Elmwood Township would control its destiny in its search to improve pedestrian and vehicular traffic in Greilickville. We hope it does.

But we’re not signing off on an open check. The $375,000 bid seems fair.

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