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Wealthy Street Mega Thread

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(My prior reply seems to have vanished, so here we go again) ... Eastown isn't the skyscraper district. It's a much more lightly populated mixed area of residential and commercial. There are no ramps, and there are no public parking lots that aren't already filled to capacity during high demand times. My problem with projects in mixed areas with inadequate parking is that the developer essentially attempts to use the city streets as his free parking lot. This little stunt doesn't work downtown because there are meters. It works well in the Wealthy area because there is a lot of surrounding residential. Why pay to put in parking (including land acquisition costs) when you can stuff all of your tenants' or customers' car in front of neighboring homes? This is a "rogue use" as well, so far as I'm concerned.

The simple fix used by many other small cities in areas where commercial/apartments and residential meet is to give out parking permits in proportion to street frontage. No pass, you park for more than an hour, you get towed.

I readily agree no one should have to provide for rogue uses, but at the same time, adjacent neighborhoods should not have to tolerate scores of cars parked on the street because some genius put in a multifamily development or commercial project and figured he would use the neighborhood for parking.

In the downtown skyscraper zoning district (my copy of the zoning ordinance is downstairs), there are no requirements for parking. And it's very typical to contract with the owner of a nearby lot or structure for shared spaces.

A parcel's owner should not be expected to continuously provide for rogue uses by whoever feels like it. (See the westside thread where the neighbors pushed back, "our children play on this vacant lot.")

Edited by x99

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Link to GRDad's post with site plan:

Note that there appears to be plenty of parking. And, again, keeping parking to a minimum in the neighborhood is actual desirable; having too much is worse than too little. See downtown as an example where too much parking ruins an otherwise walkable area.

Maybe further discussion should go in the linked thread.

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This looks like a good thread to me since the issues discussed really do impact many of the issues that will have to be resolved for a successful renovation of Wealthy (and, for all practical purposes, this Lake Dr. project although dead was basically at the juncture of Wealthy and Lake).

While I agree that too much parking is bad because it makes a neighborhood unwalkable, there are features that Wealthy has that downtown does not. Since downtown is a contiguous block of buildings in all directions, a ramp in the middle kills the flow. Wealthy does not need ramps (or lots) on the street front because it is a "main street" setup. There is plenty of room to put ample parking in the back of the buildings with a 12' parking access "hole." Most older towns with successful downtown districts and a main street corridor have this arrangement. Wealthy has it in pieces and parts, but not across the board. Since many of the Wealthy corridor areas are still less than desirable (particularly on the south side) the properties bordering the area should be able to be acquired cheaply. This only works with foresight: The developer doing it before the development goes in. So acquired, the properties could be bulldozed and parking put in. This does nothing to affect a good street front, and has very little impact on the residential fabric. A row of crappy, small houses is disposable.

There is a great development opportunity right on Wealthy and Atlas if the mean, nasty land-banking church will give up its precious parking lots (which it never, ever uses--EVER). That big empty zit on Wealthy could be developed at 100% density. Atlas could be turned into a cul-de-sac. The big lot on Atlas could then be a dedicated parking lot for the corner development. Perfect setup. Or, buy the last two remaining houses on Atlas and bulldoze for parking lots. This is a fantastic idea and someone should do it. Actually, if someone had picked up all the parcels, they could have had enough space to do a strip mall with plenty of rear-entry parking off Lake. Unfortunately, I don't think the demand is there for something of that size.

As far as this Lake Dr and almost Wealthy development (which I find interesting because it's one of very few projects where parking is actually a viable subject for discussion), it looks like 44 spots, once you exclude the worthless handicap spots. Admittedly, that is plenty of parking for a 16 unit. If all of that space would be available for overnight parking to the complex's residents, all is well. But, what happens if the commercial space went from a low-traffic 9-5 vet clinic to a high traffic 2pm-12am restaurant? Then, there are problems because there is zero other available parking in that area, and residents need to park somewhere. It seems to me that restricting uses by under-planning parking doesn't adequately prepare the site for the future. Options on the backyards of the three houses to the south on Carlton would probably take care of it (not that the City would let you shrink those lots and their precious greenspace), along with a shared use agreement with the commercial building on the Richard Terrace corner. Then, slap in a Cheesecake Factory to draw in all of EGR. Perfect. Or, maybe we can just put the Cheesecake Factor on Wealthy and Atlas? Can we just start a rumor that Cheesecake Factory is shopping for sites in GR so it might actually happen? :w00t:

Link to GRDad's post with site plan:

Note that there appears to be plenty of parking. And, again, keeping parking to a minimum in the neighborhood is actual desirable; having too much is worse than too little. See downtown as an example where too much parking ruins an otherwise walkable area.

Maybe further discussion should go in the linked thread.

Edited by x99
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Funny, I was going to chime in with the same thing. I find it absolutely ridiculous that the church is such a lousy neighbor and has built a (small) walled fortress around the parking lot. Maybe a more neighborly approach would be to put up a gate, leave it open on days that the church is not using it and put the gate down on Sunday morning at 2am as the bars clear out and enforce towing in the early AM.

Sure, it is a bit more "work", but it would definitely help the area. I can see why they don't allow churches in Traditional Neighborhood Districts (is that what it is called?).

In my opinion, churches are not great in business districts (not beating up on churches, just the low use, large parking nature of their existence).

Joe

There is a great development opportunity right on Wealthy and Atlas if the mean, nasty land-banking church will give up its precious parking lots (which it never, ever uses--EVER). That big empty zit on Wealthy could be developed at 100% density. Atlas could be turned into a cul-de-sac. The big lot on Atlas could then be a dedicated parking lot for the corner development. Perfect setup. Or, buy the last two remaining houses on Atlas and bulldoze for parking lots. This is a fantastic idea and someone should do it. Actually, if someone had picked up all the parcels, they could have had enough space to do a strip mall with plenty of rear-entry parking off Lake. Unfortunately, I don't think the demand is there for something of that size.

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In theory, a church would ideally compliment other users of parking since a church needs the most parking on a Sunday when many businesses are closed. It is ridiculous that they would wall off their lot like that. A number of years ago, when I was a starving student living in Heritage Hill, a neighboring church would sell parking passes to residents which certainly eased parking on the tiny street I lived on (Portsmouth). The only caveat was that you couldn't use the church lot on Sundays, but it was a nice tradeoff. Shared parking is, of course, one of the reasons mixed-use developments are such more efficient users of land: smaller parking requirements, and having the ability to walk or bike rather than drive.

Your point about parking passes for on-street parking a couple posts back makes sense if overspill into the neighborhood becomes a real issue. I don't think it is yet, but it could be in the future. I've seen this strategy used in some residential neighborhoods in Washington that are immediately adjacent to much more dense high-rise developments. Typically those developments have parking, but it isn't free. A pass system for residents kept things manageable during certain hours.

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I'm going to throw the City a bone here: Uptown Church is never going to sell that lot on Wealthy and Atlas unless they get a king's ransom because they pay ZERO taxes on it. They also NEVER use it for parking. I have never seen a single car in there. Not one. I have also never seen the gates unlocked. Not once. The inner Atlas lot occasionally has 4-5 cars on a Sunday, but NEVER the Wealthy fronting lot. They don't need it, they don't use it, and they have no use for it.

Under the General Property Tax Act, houses of worship are exempt from paying taxes only on the land on which they stand, which includes facilities owned by the religious society and used for services or teaching the truths and beliefs of the society. The contiguous Atlas parcel would be a tough sell, since they have at least some nominal usage. However, Uptown is NOT using their little warehoused parking lot on Wealthy for permissible purposes so far as I have obseved. As such, the City may have a claim to taxing that. I think there's a strong case that they're just holding onto this for a future ransom when the area develops, with zero carrying costs. It seems like that's a real stretch for exemption from property tax. If someone from the City actually reads this, they might want to run it past the city attorney for an opinion.

Funny, I was going to chime in with the same thing. I find it absolutely ridiculous that the church is such a lousy neighbor and has built a (small) walled fortress around the parking lot. Maybe a more neighborly approach would be to put up a gate, leave it open on days that the church is not using it and put the gate down on Sunday morning at 2am as the bars clear out and enforce towing in the early AM.

Sure, it is a bit more "work", but it would definitely help the area. I can see why they don't allow churches in Traditional Neighborhood Districts (is that what it is called?).

In my opinion, churches are not great in business districts (not beating up on churches, just the low use, large parking nature of their existence).

Joe

Edited by x99

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[quote name='x99' timestamp='1280376696' post='1121860' If someone from the City actually reads this, they might want to run it past the city attorney for an opinion.

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Good idea x99. They should audit all of the church holdings in the city and see if there are abuses. That could add up to a lot of tax revenue to help pay for some firefighters and police officers.

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Good idea x99. They should audit all of the church holdings in the city and see if there are abuses. That could add up to a lot of tax revenue to help pay for some firefighters and police officers.

...and provide more agenda items for various policy-making boards.

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As long as a church uses it for church related activities, the property is exempt. Our church bought the louse next door when the elderly lady that owned it died. As long as it was vacant or used for youth activities or even an office = tax exempt. We then used it to house a refuge family. No rent = tax exempt. Minimal rent = put the property on the tax rolls. A vacant lot qualifies as tax exempt

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If it's a non-contiguous parcel, and never used (except for the pretense of tax evasion) it should not be exempt. The Atlas and Wealthy lot is not contiguous with Uptown at all--neither their main facility, the ministries center, nor their Atlas lot. Looked over at the Atlas lot today during worship time, just for grins. 5-6 cars in the Atlas lot, while Atlas and Wealthy sat empty and locked. Somewhat ironically, the Hub lot was empty. Really, they have zero need/use for either parking lot.

I can't see how developing these parcels wouldn't make money. Biggest concern would be Uptown might not need the money and wouldn't sell. I can't figure out where it got the money from to buy all of this land in the first place unless they have a benefactor. Even for 100k+ a few years ago, that's a big sum for a church that, as far as I can tell, almost no one attends. It would be nice to see a good chain restaurant go in on some of their real estate. You would think local population density and income could support it, but perhaps not. Dining options in Eastown and down the Wealthy corridor are pretty bad if you're looking for a place with a nice atmosphere, and good, consistent food quality. Is the whole area still too "hippieish" to support a normal, decent restaurant? I thought Pizza Hut would go well, but it's almost always empty.

Minimal rent = put the property on the tax rolls. A vacant lot qualifies as tax exempt

Edited by x99
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If it's a non-contiguous parcel, and never used (except for the pretense of tax evasion) it should not be exempt.

I couldn't find the Michigan tax code for free on the internet. Do you mean "should not be" is the law or "should not be" is what you think the law should be?

It would be nice to see a good chain restaurant go in on some of their real estate. . . . Dining options in Eastown and down the Wealthy corridor are pretty bad if you're looking for a place with a nice atmosphere, and good, consistent food quality. Is the whole area still too "hippieish" to support a normal, decent restaurant? I thought Pizza Hut would go well, but it's almost always empty.

Call me an old hippy I suppose, I had a nice dinner at Brandywine last Friday (beef burgandy.) If there had been an Applebees in Eastown it still would have been Brandywine for me.

Edited by walker

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It would be nice to see a good chain restaurant go in on some of their real estate. You would think local population density and income could support it, but perhaps not. Dining options in Eastown and down the Wealthy corridor are pretty bad if you're looking for a place with a nice atmosphere, and good, consistent food quality. Is the whole area still too "hippieish" to support a normal, decent restaurant? I thought Pizza Hut would go well, but it's almost always empty.

I can't believe you're serious. Jimmy John's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, and Domino's are all chains in Eastown. Maybe you mean non-pizza/fast food places, but then you have the Winchester and Electric Cheetah, which aren't chains, but certainly don't have a slightly upscale, non-hippieish atmosphere. They're both consistently very good. I don't think I'd really consider any of the other local joints hippieish either, unless by "hippieish" you mean "non-homogenous."

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It would be nice to see a good chain restaurant go in on some of their real estate. You would think local population density and income could support it, but perhaps not. Dining options in Eastown and down the Wealthy corridor are pretty bad if you're looking for a place with a nice atmosphere, and good, consistent food quality. Is the whole area still too "hippieish" to support a normal, decent restaurant? I thought Pizza Hut would go well, but it's almost always empty.

Yikes.

I would say the last thing we need is more chains (Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino's are already there, right?)

I'm not sure what "hippieish" means but I assume you find Bombay Cuisine, Brandywine and Wolfgang's hippiesh? Just down the street is Sandmann's, Wealthy St. Station, Winchester each of which is wildly different from each other.

What would a chain restaurant add to that mix? What kind of chain restaurant are you after?

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Keep the chains on 28th street and alpine for all I care! I love the variety of places to eat at in the easttown area.

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Keep the chains on 28th street and alpine for all I care! I love the variety of places to eat at in the easttown area.

I'll second that - Eastown, East Hills and (for lack of an all encompassing name) Wealthy from Union to Fuller offers some of the best eating in the city and I've got the expanding waistline to prove it.

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What would a chain restaurant add to that mix? What kind of chain restaurant are you after?

A decent place that actually serves normal meals at a reasonable place in a nice atmosphere would be nice. Make all the arguments you want, but nothing in Eastown fits that bill except Mangiamo. Chain restaurants often fill the family dining bill because people are looking for a known quantity, and the franchising system is very adept at fulfilling that niche. Having it filled outside of that system is nice, but it rarely happens all that well unless the new owner has good prior experience.

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A decent place that actually serves normal meals at a reasonable place in a nice atmosphere would be nice. Make all the arguments you want, but nothing in Eastown fits that bill except Mangiamo. Chain restaurants often fill the family dining bill because people are looking for a known quantity, and the franchising system is very adept at fulfilling that niche. Having it filled outside of that system is nice, but it rarely happens all that well unless the new owner has good prior experience.

Hi, I was hoping you could define what "normal meals" means to you? Also in regards to a "known quantity" are you stating that quality doesn't matter as long as the portion is large?

x99: My apologies for jumping in late on your conversation on this thread, however in response to your post on July 27, 2010 at 6:18pm, I completely disagree with you and would rally against the bulldozing of houses for parking lots. I seriously don't think you understand the meaning of "neighborhood fabric" and I pray that you never acquire (in your own words) "a row of crappy, small houses..." to dispose of for parking lots.

"...Since many of the Wealthy corridor areas are still less than desirable (particularly on the south side) the properties bordering the area should be able to be acquired cheaply. This only works with foresight: The developer doing it before the development goes in. So acquired, the properties could be bulldozed and parking put in. This does nothing to affect a good street front, and has very little impact on the residential fabric. A row of crappy, small houses is disposable..." -x99

However, your statements regarding parking permits for neighborhood residents has been brought up before and I believe that it'll be within a couple of years for this program to start. Warren Ave SE off of Cherry & Fairmount is a prime example for this program.

Best, TripleG

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A decent place that actually serves normal meals at a reasonable place in a nice atmosphere would be nice. Make all the arguments you want, but nothing in Eastown fits that bill except Mangiamo. Chain restaurants often fill the family dining bill because people are looking for a known quantity, and the franchising system is very adept at fulfilling that niche. Having it filled outside of that system is nice, but it rarely happens all that well unless the new owner has good prior experience.

Well, there is something to be said for familiarity. That's why McDonald's is so popular. Go to any city and you'll get the same food. There's nothing wrong with chains per se, and I actually like a number of chains. But good food is an experience, and if what you value most is cheapness and familiarity, then it would seem eating is simply a utilitarian task for you. A means to end your hunger.

I get that you're not interested in fast food chains. But what do you want? Applebee's? They microwave everything but the meat and fries. And I'd be about 99% sure any fish they get is frozen. Cheap or not, I wouldn't pay money for that.

I reiterate my suggestions: try Green Well, Winchester (surprisingly inexpensive!), Electric Cheetah, Marie Catrib's, or Brick Road Pizza. None are dives, all are quite good. Go the other way on Wealthy into East Grand Rapids and there is even more great selection. (I love Ostas!)

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A decent place that actually serves normal meals at a reasonable place in a nice atmosphere would be nice. Make all the arguments you want, but nothing in Eastown fits that bill except Mangiamo. Chain restaurants often fill the family dining bill because people are looking for a known quantity, and the franchising system is very adept at fulfilling that niche. Having it filled outside of that system is nice, but it rarely happens all that well unless the new owner has good prior experience.

Wow, we live Northeast of Grand Rapids and are within a mile of about 20 chain restaurants (maybe more) along the East Beltline, yet we regularly drive into EGR or East Hills to eat, with the kids and without. I'll trade with you.

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Wow, we live Northeast of Grand Rapids and are within a mile of about 20 chain restaurants (maybe more) along the East Beltline, yet we regularly drive into EGR or East Hills to eat, with the kids and without. I'll trade with you.

I think it would be best for x to move up to Alpine so he can have all the parking and Crapplebee's his soul requires.

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Same here. Always downtown or in the Uptown/Easttown area. I'll trade him one Culvers for the Greenwell. Ready? :)

Wow, we live Northeast of Grand Rapids and are within a mile of about 20 chain restaurants (maybe more) along the East Beltline, yet we regularly drive into EGR or East Hills to eat, with the kids and without. I'll trade with you.

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A decent place that actually serves normal meals at a reasonable place in a nice atmosphere would be nice. Make all the arguments you want, but nothing in Eastown fits that bill except Mangiamo. Chain restaurants often fill the family dining bill because people are looking for a known quantity, and the franchising system is very adept at fulfilling that niche. Having it filled outside of that system is nice, but it rarely happens all that well unless the new owner has good prior experience.

Thank you for a vague, effete, snooty comment that explains nothing about Eastown. You are without doubt the only foodie snob in the world that wants... more chain restaurants? More grilled chicken Caesar salads and alternate versions of a deep fried onion?

Just kidding, just kiddingconsole.gifYou're not wrong. You seem to value consistency heavily in your dining experience. Hey, we all do - the chains all stay in business somehow, right? It's been a while since I last ate on Wealthy Street, but I kinda know what you mean. However, the local fare has a lot else to offer, and chains just always give you the same thing. No one says you have to like Eastown... And yet, in your own words, you can "make all the arguments you want," but you're spotting deficiencies that others don't see.

And hey, I don't mind more chains moving to Wealthy Street. It's good business, and they've got the vacant store frontage to spare.

PS- I've never been to Mangiamo, because I still miss Gibson's.cry.gif

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On the topic of Wealthy Street, Rapid Growth and the Wealthy Theatre/Community Media Center are having an event September 8th featuring the rebirth of Wealthy Street and the Centennial Celebration of the Wealthy Theatre. Local historians, community activists and architects who worked on the Wealthy Theatre renovation will be speaking, as well as a feature video shown about the Wealthy Theatre history and renovation.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=119373038115313&ref=ts

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