One Water Street developer Glen Catt proposes a new $7.5 million development along Lake Street in Boyne City.
Catt presented the early stages of the concept—which could house a bank, a bar/restaurant and apartments—to the Boyne City Main Street Program Board of Directors on Thursday Aug. 7.
“We still have a long way to go but I always believe in laying my cards on the table, getting it out there, and it’s important to get feedback from people,” Catt said. “I think it’s great to build momentum. It’s great for Boyne City. It’s great for me. It’s great for the project. The danger of that is to create some false hopes, to say this is coming. I do want to reiterate: we think it looks good but we have a long way to go.”
Early sketches of the proposed development show an outdoor seating area that would wrap around the back of the 7 Monks Taproom building along Front Street. The view corridor of Ray Street would be kept open. There would be a pedestrian walk and no curb cut on Front Street.
Catt said a local bank—which wishes to remain nameless at this time—is interested in opening a location in Boyne City and could be a part of the new Lake Street development.
There would be room in the three-story development for a bank drive-thru area, something upon which the bank’s involvement seems to be contingent.
Catt said he believes there would be a lot of value of having a patio seating area at the restaurant.
Catt said the development would span approximately 160 linear feet along Lake Street.
“The two issues that we have to overcome yet, I think, is the drive-thru (which is prohibited in downtown Boyne City) we’ve got to get around that and parking—is there enough parking?” Catt said.
The second story, Catt said, would offer affordable/workplace housing consisting of one-bedroom and two-bedroom living quarters for people and young couples who work downtown. Units could have a potential price range of $500 to $600 per month for rent and could be 800-square-feet in size.
“We’ve all been through the place-making studies… Young people, as they come up, they want to live downtown. They want to be close to where they work,” said Catt.
Catt said he was a little nervous about whether the demand is there for 13 affordable housing units but said some of the units on the third story, with views of the water, could be turned into apartments or condos to help subsidize the development.
Outgoing Boyne City Main Street Manager Hugh Conklin said some on the Main Street Program Design Committee are concerned that allowing one downtown project to get a variance for a drive-thru could “crack the door” to allow any other business to do the same.
“How do we avoid that, then? Because that certainly is a legitimate concern,” said Boyne City Main Street Program Board member Jodie Adams. “I like that you’ve hidden it (drive-thru) and I think with that kind of an approach we could always say, ‘You can have one but you’re going to have to do the same thing.’”
Boyne City Main Street Program Board member Tom Neidhamer said there is a tool in the zoning law called conditional zoning which may take care of the drive-thru issue. He also said older people and retirees looking to downsize, and even vacationers may be interested in the affordable housing apartment option.
Catt said he understands the desire not to have drive-thrus and fast food restaurants in the Downtown Business District but explained that the drive-thru would be covered by the second and third floors of the structure, rendering it visible only at the entrance on Front Street.
“What drove this is we’ve got somebody that wants to invest in Boyne City, a local business—a very well-run local business—that will not only invest in the community if they come here … but also contribute to the community because they contribute to the other communities they have branches in,” he said.
According to Catt, the Boyne Arts Collective is historical and the front and a certain portion of the side must be retained in order to preserve its historical appearance and apply for certain historical preservation grants.
The project would involve demolishing the Lake Square Mall and much of the building that currently houses the Boyne Arts Collective.
Catt said the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will be key in supporting the proposed development.
“My only hangup now is the support from the MEDC and I feel pretty confident it’s going to be there…” Catt said. “That’s crucial. If we can’t get the support, the financial support behind it—and, again, we’re not looking for financial support to put it in our pocket, we just want to make the deal work. We always have to remember that we’re still, that Northern Michigan is still a seasonal community.”
Matt Cozzens and Jim Smolak, the owners of 7 Monks Taproom, located at 128 South Union St. in downtown Traverse City, joined Catt in his presentation.
“We’ve been in some preliminary discussions with a few folks in town … and we have an interest in the region,” Cozzens said… “We created 40 jobs in Traverse City. We’re entering our fourth year of operations. We support a lot of the local Michigan breweries. We don’t brew beer. We have 46 craft beers on tap and we do different events throughout the year with those beers and we actually do charity events a couple times a year.”
He added, “We’re very interested in getting involved in the community and we feel that our concept, potentially here in Boyne City, could be a benefit and be welcoming to diverse groups of people that come here (and) that live here permanently.”
According to the owners, at the time they opened their business there were seven Trappist monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands that were authorized to brew and label beer with the official Trappist Product logo, and so the name “7 Monks Taproom” was born.
“It’s a quality establishment that has, obviously, a lot of craft beer but also quality food,” said Catt. “You can call it a bar but it’s a quality bar, upscale, quality food.”
He added, “This is something that (they) were looking at Petoskey and for whatever reason that did not work out and Wally Kidd got them down here to Boyne and they fell in love with it.”
According to Smolak, he and his partner decided to open the establishment as a tasting house, where people can come to sample multitudes of Michigan craft beers.
“When we started there … was probably 90 breweries in the state and now I think we’re approaching close to 200,” he said… “You can have $3 craft beers, you can have $11 craft beers—all across the board.”
Smolak added, “We like creating that environment of choices.”
In addition to serving lunch and dinner, 7 Monks also offers a variety of hard ciders, wine and a limited selection of hard liquor.
The Traverse City establishment offers live music in the form of small acoustical singles or groups several days per week, something they would also like to do in Boyne City.
“We do live music right now a couple days a week and it’s just part of the atmosphere there,” said 7 Monks Taproom co-owner Jim Smolak… “I think what we’ve managed to pull off in Traverse City is a place that I would absolutely take my grandparents to but then there’s also the bachelorette and bachelor parties going on, so it’s an environment for all ages.”
He added, “Anyone, I think, would be comfortable there. We love having live music, it just adds to the vibe.”
Catt said that, while he would love to be open by next summer, it is probably more realistic to expect the project to be completed by the fall of 2015 or spring 2016.
“How cool would it be for some of these young people … (to) watch Stroll the Streets, be right in the activity, watch the fireworks?” Catt said.
Boyne City Main Street Board member Robin Lee Berry said that would be a double complement to the downtown area.
“It’s good for the people that are living there but it’s really good for the look of the street,” she said. “It’s so important to take that stretch of street and give anybody anything to look at when they walk.”[/mpinpage]
Catt will present his proposal to the Boyne City Planning Commission at 5 p.m. on Monday Aug. 18.