Rezoning for new parking lot under consideration

Office park was proposed for site in 1989 but was never fully realized.
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The Grand Rapids City Commission scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday to consider an amendment to a previously approved PRD west of East Paris Avenue and north of 28th Street. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

A more than 30-year-old planned redevelopment district in Grand Rapids may undergo a major change to accommodate more parking.

The Grand Rapids City Commission scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday to consider an amendment to a previously approved PRD west of East Paris Avenue and north of 28th Street.

The property is located on a 16-acre former planned unit development — now known as a PRD. City commissioners approved the establishment of the PUD in 1989 to permit consolidation of several smaller proposed office buildings into a single five-story office structure. The development also included two existing office buildings, as well as two other buildings.

“It has transitioned through various office-type development plans, but the ordinance is particular that there’s only so much you can do with it in regard to particular building sizes,” said Kristin Turkelson, Grand Rapids planning director. “This is different because we are no longer looking at building development but parking lots.”

The most recent amendment would facilitate the construction of a surface parking lot instead of a planned office building and associated parking structure.

The two parcels, 3900 and 3911 Peninsular Drive SE, are a combined 3.72 acres in area. The site was previously prepared for development but is now overgrown with vegetation.

The parking lot will serve Peckham Vocational Industries’ 24-hour call center at 3777 Sparks Drive SE, an approximately 75,800-square-foot office building with approximately 266 parking spaces located outside of the subject PRD on the south side of Lake Eastbrook Boulevard.

A new sidewalk also will be constructed on the adjacent parcel, 3920 Peninsular Drive SE, to connect the parking lot to an existing pedestrian bridge over the lake.

The surface parking lot will give Peckham another 214 parking spaces and will be entry controlled by a gate system. Stormwater will be detained in an underground pipe system and treated prior to release.

Turkelson said the property has an extensive history with regard to its zoning amendments. The first change occurred in 1995 when the planning commission approved an expansion of parking lots, the addition of a pedestrian bridge across Lake Eastbrook and changes to the locations of buildings.

The first major amendment was approved by the city commission in 2000 to allow a four-story, 240,000-square-foot building and a parking structure accommodating 870 vehicles, instead of the previously approved five-story building and surface parking of 587 spaces. This site plan would be modified under the newest amendment under consideration.

The office park was divided into seven lots. Three office buildings, constructed in 1985, 1988 and 1990, occupy three of the lots with parking for one of the buildings extending onto a fourth lot. The three separate lots that comprise the intended site of the 240,000-square-foot building with structured parking remain unimproved.

If the amendment is approved, 3921 Peninsular Drive, which is adjacent to the subject properties on the east, would be the last remaining undeveloped property in the PRD. It was anticipated that this lot would support a portion of the planned office building and parking deck.

No formal changes are proposed to 3921 Peninsular, but the practical result of the amendment under consideration is to render this property unbuildable without a major amendment, according to city documents.

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