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Officials consider merits of taller buildings in TC's Warehouse District


A new four-story apartment building is prompting questions about the future of Traverse City’s Warehouse District.

DargaWorks wants to build a multi-use development called “Warehouse Flats” on what is now a parking lot at Garland Street and North Union. DargaWorks says the proposed 59-foot building would provide workforce housing and a public parking garage.

Nick Darga told the Traverse City Commission last night that the 112 apartments in Warehouse Flats would be managed by DargaWorks, and would rent at “market value.” Darga said a 550 square-foot apartment would rent for “less than $1,000.”

The DargaWorks building would be one inch shorter than the 60-foot maximum allowed by last year’s passage of Prop 3.

Right now, the Warehouse District is zoned for buildings up to 45 feet tall, and DargaWorks is asking the commission for a zoning variance.

Commissioners expressed concerns about DargaWorks’ proposal, including environmental design, access to a nearby sewer line and whether a walkway would be built along a 600-foot stretch of the Boardman River.

But the debate opened up another question: does the increasingly popular Warehouse District need to be re-zoned to allow taller buildings?

“We keep changing what we allow people to do in a certain zoning district, so maybe this whole district needs to be revisited,” says Mayor Jim Carruthers.

Planning Director Russ Soyring says multiple developers want to build higher than 45 feet.

“I just think a better process would be to look at a district-wide re-zoning, but not to do it piecemeal by piecemeal,” says Soyring.

Soyring says the process to re-zone the district would take several months.

The commission put off a decision on DargaWorks’ proposal until a Feb. 13th meeting.