Consumers Credit Union searches for a new building in downtown SH | local news

Consumers Credit Union plans to expand its presence in the South Haven area with the construction of a new four-story building on Phoenix Street.

Kalamazoo-based Credit Union has purchased three lots on the 400 block of Phoenix Street currently occupied by a one-story building that was leased for several years to Great Lakes Eye Care Care and an adjacent private lot reserved for eye patients.

Consumers plans to construct a four-story, 33,900-square-foot building on three lots at 412, 414, and 416 Phoenix Streets, according to plans submitted to the City of South Haven by Steven Bosch of Bosch Architecture of Kalamazoo, on behalf of the Consumers Credit Union submitted the project.

The ground floor would consist of a Consumers Credit Union branch and two additional retail spaces, while the top three floors would house 17 one- and two-bedroom units. Also planned are 10 on-site parking spaces at the rear of the building overlooking Eagle Street.

“Due to limited land availability in downtown South Haven, this development would present an opportunity for retail expansion as well as a residential component,” Bosch said in correspondence with the city. “The property owner wants to develop a project that will benefit both the City of South Haven and the owner.”

Before the ambitious construction project can proceed, however, Consumers Credit Union must request a variance from the city’s zoning committee. The board plans to meet Monday at 7 p.m. to review the credit union’s application to construct a four-story building downtown.

Currently, city ordinance limits building heights downtown to a maximum average of 3.5 stories for a total height of 45 feet, plus an additional 4 feet for structural extensions such as cornices or parapet walls.

The consumer proposal calls for a 50-foot, four-story building.

“The surrounding buildings vary in height from 1 to 3.5 stories,” wrote Bosch. “The proposed building will not exceed a maximum height of 50 feet, with an architectural style consistent with the established character of downtown.”

Deviations have historically been granted for the construction of buildings over 3.5 stories in downtown South Haven.

“Some lots in the Central Business District are four stories tall,” city officials wrote in a report to the Zoning Appellate Body ahead of Monday’s meeting. “Watertowne Condominiums, for example (situated on sloping topography) appears to be five stories on the Williams Street side and three stories on the Quaker Street side… This particular lot was averaged for the elevation measurement. Simultaneously. ..it is difficult to determine whether this benefits all surrounding properties It can be assumed that making the most of one’s property without encroaching on the surrounding properties is a property right to be enjoyed whether there are other buildings or very few buildings of this height in the district. However, it should be noted that this application represents an exception to what is currently typical in the neighborhood.”

At least one person who lives at Verano Place, a two-story mixed-use residential and commercial building on Eagle Street behind the proposed development, opposes the Consumers Credit Union proposal.

“I believe the city of South Haven has a charming downtown and to maintain that charm, building heights should be limited to 3.5 stories. New developments will improve downtown, but this divergence simply contributes to a situation where there’s too much for too little space,” Rich Edwards wrote to the Zones Court of Appeals. “I think the city needs to address issues like parking and smoking and investigate other issues associated with a larger population living and staying there.”

When contacted Friday about the planned 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 would be the fourth bank in South Haven’s Central Business District. The other three are Huntington Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Sturgis Bank & Trust’s South Haven Banking Center.

Consumers Credit Union operates 23 bank branches throughout Michigan, including one at 1579 Phoenix St. off Interstate 196. The other bank branches are located in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Coldwater and in towns along the lakefront.

The company serves more than 120,000 members in West Michigan, has total assets of more than $1.8 billion, and has had compound annual growth of 18 percent over the past 35 years, according to company statistics.

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 break ground on its new Woods Lake office and retail space 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 two-story, 4,391-square-foot bank office that will occupy approximately two-thirds of the ground floor.

About Stephanie McGehee

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