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The Hillcrest Apartments planned at 220 Quimby St. NE in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood. The Hillcrest Apartments planned at 220 Quimby St. NE in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood. COURTESY OF PINNACLE CONSTRUCTION GROUP INC.

GR planning commission approves parking waiver for 72-unit Creston apartment project

BY Thursday, December 08, 2022 05:37pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A southeast Michigan-based developer has secured a key parking waiver for a 72-unit mixed-use housing project that could break ground next spring in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission at a meeting today approved the 50-percent parking waiver, which will reduce the number of onsite parking spaces required for the development at 220 Quimby St. NE.

Developer Ryan Talbot, doing business as Talbot Development LLC, is eyeing the same site where the now-defunct 616 Lofts LLC once planned an apartment development that never materialized, as MiBiz previously reported. 

“The concept behind this development is really to maximize housing density on the site as much as we can — there is a housing crisis,” Talbot said during today’s planning commission meeting. “Seventy-two units on a half-acre is a pretty good amount of density there. Creston is a wonderful neighborhood and aspiring to be more and more walkable and accessible. … We’re trying to fit as many parking spots on the site as we reasonably can without sacrificing housing units — that’s really the primary goal.”

Talbot’s four-story, 45,000-square-foot Hillcrest Apartments project calls for 1,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and some apartment units. The 72 apartments would include 61 micro units that are 350-475 square feet, eight one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units. The development also calls for indoor storage space for 60 bicycles, an outdoor bike rack and bike hooks in apartment units. 

The planning commission’s parking waiver allows for 35 fewer parking spaces than are required onsite by ordinance. The development will have 28 total onsite parking spaces. With the parking waiver secured, the project is allowed by right. 

Talbot told MiBiz before the meeting that construction on Hillcrest Apartments could tentatively start by the end of April 2023 and finish by the summer of 2024. Pinnacle Construction Group Inc. is designing and building the project.

More parking concerns

Despite the parking waiver approval, neighboring business owners — while still supportive of the project more broadly — remain concerned about tenants’ potential parking options. 

Specifically, business owners are concerned about Talbot’s proposal to lease about 40 spaces from an adjacent Mobile GR lot for tenants to park offsite. Mobile GR operates the city’s parking systems.

“I’m not opposed to the development, I like the idea of more housing,” said Rezervoir Lounge owner Brett Alward. “We’ve been waiting for something to happen in Creston many times, I’ve been through this process before. But parking is obviously a concern.”

Alward told the planning commission that he pays the Creston Business Association, which in turn pays Mobile GR a fee to maintain the lot and keep spaces unmetered. 

“You’re talking about taking away 40 spots that I am dependent on,” Alward said. “These are things that have been here for many years. I am grateful that it is meter-free. I’ve been happy to pay that money to keep it meter-free.”

The roughly100-space parking lot is a “huge selling point” for Creston Brewery, which operates a full-service restaurant and a second-floor event space across the street from the project site, said Michael Biddick, food and beverage director at Saugatuck Brewing Co., which owns Creston Brewery.

“I’m a big supporter of the project, it’s just that the parking is super vital to our business as a restaurant and a brewpub,” Biddick said.

Mobile GR Director Josh Naramore said ample parking exists on surrounding streets and with metered spaces to support the development, even if Talbot opts against leasing from Mobile GR. Any business can request renting a portion of the parking lot, and requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis, he said. 

“When there is a petition to convert what is a free lot, we convert a portion of it to permit parking on a month-to-month lease,” Naramore explained. “The rest of the parking lot is available for any other use. If we converted it over, we would reassess what we charge the Creston Business Association.”

Talbot responded to neighbors’ parking concerns prior to the planning commissioners’ vote, and it remains unclear whether he will pursue the lease with Mobile GR. 

“I hope we can come to some kind of an arrangement here,” Talbot said. “I totally respect what’s going on, hopefully we can find a way forward to make the project happen.”

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