On Monday, a major employment project on East Washington Avenue will be up for final approvals before the city’s Plan Commission.
Developer Curt Brink wants to bring an 11-story, 257,200 square-foot office building to 929 E. Washington Ave.
City staff has recommended approval of the project, as it creates long-recommended, high-density office space on the south side of East Washington Avenue. A letter from the Marquette Neighborhood Association “recognizes the value of this project” while also asking for “additional attention” to some areas of the project, like traffic, parking and stormwater management.
The Plan Commission will review the proposal at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Monday, March 25, at 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
The 11,000-square-foot first floor is slated as retail, commercial and restaurant space, with the upper stories dedicated to offices. The building consists of a “podium” base of three lower stories and an eight-story glass tower above. The base stone in the lower levels would be limestone, meant to mimic the facade of Breese Stevens Field, located across the street.
The project would also build a 693-stall parking garage, topped with a green roof with access for office tenants. A letter from the development team says it “anticipates applying for Tax Increment Financing” for the structured parking.
Because the proposed building is over five stories, the project would require a conditional use approval, as well as demolition permits to tear down buildings at 945 E. Washington Ave. and 924 E. Main St. These permits do not require City Council approval.
East Washington Avenue has seen an abundance of new apartments in the past few years, like Gebhardt Development’s Constellation on the 700 block of East Washington, the 14-story Galaxie high rise apartments and Stone House Development’s 11-story Lyric apartments on the 1000 block of East Washington. But the 900 block is zoned for Traditional Employment, and various city and neighborhood plans call for employment uses on the south side of East Washington Avenue.
If approved, construction would start in July with an aim to be finished in July 2021. But the office building is just one phase of Brink’s plans for the block, named Archipelago Village.
Brink and investors Jim and Marlene Korb bought the 4.3 acre site at 901 E. Washington Ave., the former home of the Mautz Paint factory, in 2002. Brink is already turning the historic Kleuter building on the property into a 144-room hotel and restaurant known as Hotel Indigo, set to open at the end of April.
On Monday, the developer is also seeking an alteration to the previously approved parking arrangement for Hotel Indigo. The hotel, which includes a restaurant, was originally set to be served by a 138-stall surface parking lot; the office building and parking structure would cover part of that lot. Instead, the developer is proposing a 75-stall valet lot and asking to lease 50 stalls of the South Livingston Street city parking garage from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day to serve the hotel. City staff recommends approval of the lease.
Brink has said he would eventually like to introduce more office, commercial and apartments to the block, hoping to create an active and in-demand employment area.
In December, Brink and his son Matt Brink said a second phase of construction would expand the parking garage, add another office building to the corner of East Washington Avenue and South Brearly Street and ideally bring a mixed-use building with retail space and apartments to East Main Street.
Also this week, the city’s Urban Design Commission will review SSM Health’s designs for a 175,000 square-foot new clinic on the Pick ‘n Save site at 1312 S. Park St. to replace its existing clinic at 1313 Fish Hatchery Road.
SSM Health owns almost 13 acres in the area, including the site of its existing clinic. The proposed clinic fronting South Park Street would be the first phase of the project; in the next decade, SSM could add a 60,000 square-foot expansion and parking ramp, with the possibility of even more development on the site after that.
The project has brought up neighborhood concerns about a gap of time without accessible, healthy food on the street. Pick ‘n Save is the only major full-service grocery store in the area, and it would be demolished for the project. The city owns the property next door and has an RFP calling for a grocery store on the site, but has not yet selected a developer for the project.