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New development brings housing, environmental cleanup to ‘prominent’ Grand Haven property


Feb 19, 2021

GRAND HAVEN, MI – After three years of planning, proposals and site preparation, a Grand Haven residential development is set to begin construction in the spring.

GRAND HAVEN, MI – After three years of planning, proposals and site preparation, a Grand Haven residential development is set to begin construction in the spring.

Peerless Flats, a four-building, 124-unit development, will fill the vacant space at the former site of Stanco Metal Properties near downtown at 105 Fulton St. The three- and four-story apartment buildings constructed on 4.66 acres will be the tallest rental units in town, said River Caddis, LLC developer Kevin McGraw.

Development plans also include an amenity building with an outdoor pool, fire pits, a dog run, a fitness center and community space. Public parking will encircle the property.

An estimated $24.7 million is being invested into Peerless Flats. The project is expected to spur other development around downtown.

The Stanco property has been empty since the 1980s. McGraw said the Slagel family, who have owned the site for over 100 years, are equal partners in the development.

“It’s just exciting to bring something down to such a prominent piece of property,” said McGraw.

Grand Haven Residential Development
After three years, proposed Peerless Flats development has completed all the steps to finally start construction in the spring. The residential project will bring 124 market-rate units to downtown Grand Haven. (Photo provided by River Caddis, LLC)

Environmental Cleanup

The Peerless Flats site is attractive for development — within walking distance to the Grand Haven farmers market, the Grand River and Lake Michigan. But its history as a former industrial site complicated the project.

Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said the site has been untouched for years largely due to the “seemingly insurmountable challenges” of developing the property.

Grand Haven’s first manufacturing industry, Sheldon’s Tannery, was opened on the site in the 1830s, and Stanco moved its operation there around 1960, according to Loutit Library.

“We’re applying 2021 environmental standards to things that were happening over 100 years ago,” McGinnis said.

Related: New market, small shops, homes part of proposal to redevelop Grand Haven riverfront

River Caddis worked with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to assess longstanding environmental concerns at the property.

Moderate levels of “long-term contamination” have persisted, said Nancy Johnson, an environmental quality analyst with EGLE, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and a limited amount of PFAS chemicals.

“A big part of the project is just the proper management of soil and groundwater,” said Johnson, who also noted the pollution is not unusual for a former industrial site.

As a precaution, vapor barriers will also be installed in the buildings.

McGinnis said the ongoing environmental care and monitoring of the property was important to city leaders who have been eyeing the site for years.

“I think it’s definitely a win for the city of Grand Haven,” said Johnson.

Peerless Flats was awarded a $4.75 million loan through the Michigan Community Revitalization Program and $1.38 million in tax capture through the Grand Haven Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. The funding will help “plug the gap” on the costs of cleaning the property, McGraw said.

“This is really going to help the environmental condition of this area,” he said.

Downtown Grand Haven Housing

The Grand Haven City Council approved the preliminary development plan for Peerless Flats last year, and the planning commission gave its final approval on Jan. 12.

In public meetings, residents expressed concerns about the availability of parking and the project changing the landscape of the neighborhood.

After three years of revised proposals, it was “an exercise in persistence,” said McGinnis.

The developers will also be making public infrastructure improvements to the sidewalks, public parking and roads in the area.

Grand Haven has been taking steps to bring more residential developments to the city, including becoming a Michigan Mainstreet Community through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and making changes to zoning rules to clear the path for affordable housing.

Related: Zoning changes remove obstacles for affordable housing in Grand Haven

Peerless Flats will bring market-rate housing to downtown Grand Haven. The developers considered allocating some units at income-restricted rates, but the expense of developing the contaminated site eliminated that possibility.

“It’s extremely difficult to do, time consuming and expensive,” said McGraw.

McGinnis said data from Housing Next, a consulting agency that works on funding solutions for affordable housing, shows there is a need for residential space at “all income levels.”

Construction on Peerless Flats will begin in April. The first two buildings are expected to be done by May 2022 and the amenity building and the two other residential buildings by fall 2022. There are also plans to eventually build nine townhouses or condos on 2nd Street.

McGraw believes the project could be a “catalyst for further development” in Grand Haven.

More on MLive:

Wolverine wants to turn infamous tannery dump into a public park

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