Consumers Credit Union plans to expand its presence in the South Haven area by constructing a new four-story structure on Phoenix Street.
The Kalamazoo-area-based credit union purchased three parcels of property in the 400 block of Phoenix Street that are currently occupied by a one-story building that had been leased for several years to Great Lakes Eye Care Care and adjoining private parking. lot reserved for eye care patients.
Consumers plan to construct a four-story, 33,900-square-foot building on the three lots at 412, 414 and 416 Phoenix Street, according to plans submitted to the City of South Haven by Steven Bosch of Bosch Architecture, based in Kalamazoo, which submitted plans for the project on behalf of Consumers Credit Union.
The ground floor would include a Consumers Credit Union branch and two additional retail spaces, while the top three floors would contain 17 one- and two-bedroom residential units. Plans also call for 10 on-site parking spaces at the rear of the building, facing Eagle Street.
“With limited land available in downtown South Haven, this development would provide the opportunity for an expanded retail as well as a residential component,” Bosch said in correspondence with the city. “The Owner is looking to develop a project that benefits both the City of South Haven and the Owner.”
However, before the ambitious construction project can proceed, Consumers Credit Union will need to seek a waiver from the city’s Zoning Board of Review. The board plans to meet at 7 p.m. Monday to consider the credit union’s application to build a four-story structure downtown.
Currently, the city ordinance limits the height of buildings, downtown, to a maximum average of 3.5 stories for a total of 45 feet in height, plus an additional 4 feet for structural extensions like cornices or parapet walls.
The consumer proposal calls for a four-storey building 50 feet high.
“Surrounding buildings vary in height from 1 to 3.5 stories,” Bosch wrote. “The proposed building will not exceed a maximum height of 50 feet, with architectural styling to suit the established downtown character.”
Waivers have been granted in the past for the construction of buildings over 3.5 stories in downtown South Haven.
“A few properties in the central business district have four stories,” city staff wrote in a report to the Zoning Board of Appeals ahead of Monday’s meeting. “Watertowne Condominiums, for example, (located on sloping topography) appears to be five stories on the Williams Street side and three stories on the Quaker Street side… This particular property was averaged for height measurement. At the same time…it is difficult to determine if this is something that all surrounding properties benefit from One can consider that the highest possible use of one’s property without creating harm to surrounding properties is a property right that can be enjoyed whether or not there are other buildings or very few buildings of that height in the neighborhood.However, it should be noted that this application is an exception to what the currently found in the neighborhood.
At least one person, who lives in Verano Place, a two-story mixed-use residential and commercial building on Eagle Street at the back of the proposed development, opposes Consumers Credit Union’s proposal.
“I believe the City of South Haven has a charming downtown area and to maintain that charm, building heights should be limited to 3.5 stories. New development will enhance the downtown area, but this gap is only add to a situation where there is too much space,” wrote Rich Edwards at the Zoning Board of Appeals. “I believe the city needs to look at issues such as parking and smoking and other issues related to a larger population that lives and stays there.”
Contacted Friday about the proposed development in downtown South Haven, Consumers Credit Union officials said they would prefer to wait until after the ZBA meeting.
If the company is given the green light to build its mixed-use development, it will be the fourth bank to be located in South Haven’s central business district. The other three are Huntington Bank, Fifth Third Bank and South Haven Banking Center of Sturgis Bank & Trust.
Consumers Credit Union operates 23 bank branches throughout Michigan, including one at 1579 Phoenix St. near Interstate 196. Its other bank branches are located in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Coldwater, and towns along the lake .
The company serves more than 120,000 members in West Michigan, has total assets of more than $1.8 billion and has grown at an average annual rate of 18% over the past 35 years, according to statistics from the company.
Consumers Credit Union plans to expand its services to other new markets in the coming year, including Lansing and Muskegon. Later this month, the company will open its new office and retail space at Woods Lake in Kalamazoo, at the corner of Parkview Avenue and Oakland Drive, according to company officials.
The new location will consist of two buildings: a 7,355 square foot retail building and a 4,391 square foot two-story bank office, which will take up approximately two-thirds of the ground floor.