New apartment complex, HopCat bar discussed by planning commission


The East Lansing Planning Commission weighed in on whether to demolish a gas station to build a new apartment complex and whether to build a bar on the first floor of The Residences, 300 Grove St. during public hearings at Wednesday’s meeting.

The commission first tackled the proposal to demolish the BP gas station, located at 504 Michigan Ave.

The proposed building would be four stories tall and feature 21 four-bedroom apartments, with the first floor used for both commercial space and for parking.

Community Development Analyst Tim Schmitt said the project, “should be an economic positive to the city because it is increasing taxable value to the property.”

“We don’t expect major safety or security issues with the neighboring buildings,” Schmitt said.

Because the space currently is being used as a gas station, the commission had concerns that the proposed building would be built on top of land that was used for gas tanks.

Dale Inman, one of the developers for the proposed apartments, said although there was a leak on the site back in 1991, new tanks were put in by the previous property owner and monitoring wells were placed to pump out the contamination.

Parking was another issue brought up by the commission. The minimum amount of parking spaces needed for the project is 57. Current plans include 34 spaces on-site.

Planning commissioner Linda White said she was concerned if the tenants of the building would be able to adhere to the limited parking on-site, with only one or two parking spaces available for each 4 bedroom apartment.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Darcy Schmitt said the people who would be leasing this apartment know what they would be getting into in terms of limited parking spaces.

“If they want convenient parking, they’re gonna go where they can get convenient parking,” she said.

The second public hearing was on the proposed restaurant, HopCat, located on the first floor of The Residences.

HopCat, a restaurant that features about 100 different kinds of beers, would have to follow the city’s 50/50 rule requiring at least half of a restaurant’s profits be food sales in a 90-day period.

Sam Short, director of new projects for BarFly Ventures, said in the fourth quarter of last year, HopCat’s food sales were 50 percent, and 44 percent of profits were alcohol sales.

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