The Holly DDA purchased the ho...
HOLLY, Michigan – While many are happy to know that the village of Holly is planning to demolish the rundown multi-residence structure on the corner of Maple and First Streets, resident and local businessman, John Lauve is completely against the idea.
In November, board members belonging to Holly’s Downtown Development Authority allocated approximately $23,000 in funding to buy the dilapidated 3-story structure located at 102 First Street. The DDA immediately deeded the property to the village of Holly in return for the village’s promise to demolish the building, and consider other uses for the property including the possibility of creating a 30-35 space parking lot.
Lauve spoke during the public comment segment of the Jan. 8 Village Council meeting, urging council members to consider selling him the structure for $20,000 so that he can refurbish the historic home as part of the “Mill Plaza” area in downtown Holly.
“I currently own two of the five properties that make up the Mill Plaza,” Lauve said. “I own the mill, and the place that’s between the post office and Coleman’s property.”
Lauve said allowing him to renovate and refurbish the “gray mansion” would save the village demolition costs and enhance the overall appeal of the “Mill Plaza,” or that is, the areas immediately adjacent to the Holly Mill including the parking lot, the clock area along Maple Street, and the areas near the post office.
“I’ve taken buildings that were scheduled for demolition and restored them, put them back on the rolls and saved probably $50,000 or $60,000 for the community by doing them,” Lauve said, adding that two such examples included the Holly Mill and another structure on Sherman Street.
“I also refurbished that building that (John) La Croix has down at the Great Lakes Market Place,” Lauve said. “It had pigeon debris about that deep upstairs,” he said motioning with his hands. “When the roof leaked, it flowed like a waterfall, and now it’s a functioning, attractive building.”
Lauve said his various renovation projects in the village have helped to make Holly a better community. “I haven’t made money on these things, either,” he said. “This isn’t a money deal – it’s because once these places are gone, the charm that’s in Holly disappears.”
In addition to enhancing the “Mill Plaza,” Lauve also spoke about the importance of renovating Holly’s historical train depot, as well as the Waterworks Building on S. Broad Street.
Following Lauve’s comments, Holly resident Sherlynn Everly took the opportunity to express some of her thoughts on the issue to council members.
“Wouldn’t you all agree that past performance is a good predictor of what’s going to happen in the future?” Everly asked council members. “Well, Mr. Lauve – I’ve watched him save Holly buildings in the past and I think the first one was the building which was the old drug store,” she said. “There was a fire and Mr. Lauve got involved in it, and the village ended up taking him to court in order to get the work done, so that, I think you can expect in the future.”
Everly said the village experienced similar problems when Lauve renovated the Holly Mill. “Mr. Lauve seems to think that every old building is a quality building, and that is not necessarily so,” she said. “He started his project and then he backed off on his promises to the committees that were involved and had to be compelled – I think he might have had to post a bond last time to make him finish the work that he was going to do,” she added. “You can check the records with the village – it should all be a matter of public record and I’m sure our officials would be happy to go back and look at the number of times that doing business with John Lauve in the village has resulted in lawsuits, rancor, meetings, anger – all the stuff that we don’t need.”
Calling the 102 First Street property a “big gray mess,” Everly continued.
“It’s been a big, gray, eyesore piece of crap forever,” she said. “Somebody finally has a plan to do something – let’s follow it through – let’s do it and get more parking, and while you’re at it, add more handicapped parking along (Saginaw) Street because that’s the biggest complaint that I hear.”
Council weighs in
Village Manager Jerry Walker said the estimated cost for demolishing the structure was approximately $20,000, but that $10,000 of its funding could come from Community Development Block Grant monies. An asphalt curbed parking lot, Walker said, would come with an estimated cost of approximately $95,000.
Councilman George Kullis said he toured the structure, both inside and out, and questioned whether renovations would ever be possible, due to zoning constraints.
“The property was grandfathered in and used as apartments,” Kullis said. “But the zoning for that piece of property is Central Zoning District, so even if we were to look at Mr. Lauve doing what he wants to do, he would have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals and get that zoning changed and in doing so, he would have to take a plan with him and it would have to be approved by the Planning Commission.”
Kullis said Lauve would also encounter problems from the standpoint of parking. “I think to move forward in the direction that Mr. Lauve wants to go would require some certified contractors, some proposals, architectural drawings on the work that would want to be done, and I guess the question for me first of all, is that something he is willing to go through, and number two, does it even seem feasible at this point that it would be able to get through planning and zoning?”
Councilman Bob Allsop was in favor of selling the property to Lauve.
“If John (Lauve) could come up with an agreement and put insurance on the place so that the village isn’t responsible for it and get working on it, it would be a plus for the township,” he said. “The village wouldn’t have to dish out all this money and we still have taxes coming back and water bills coming back,” Allsop said.
Councilman Ryan Bladzik agreed with Kullis, saying any renovations to the property would either require a variance or complete rezoning. “Both our Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals have been very reluctant to do spot zoning just as a best practice,” he said.
Additionally, the structure stands in the Central Business District, and now must comply with the current uses. “If it’s going to be an apartment building or a multi-resident building, there needs to be parking there – they can’t just rely on parking across the street, and the way that the lot is configured, I don’t know that there is room for parking.”
Bladzik said there could be other uses for the property other than a parking lot that would conform to the Central Business District uses, including a multi-use office building or townhomes.
“My personal opinion is that putting a multi-use building or even townhomes or apartments or something like that is going to have a greater long-term financial benefit than just restoring it into apartments like it is,” Bladzik said.
Should council reconsider and sell the property to Lauve, Bladzik said he had concerns over how long the process could take in pushing the matter through the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“In the meantime, the dump is still sitting there,” he said. “It could be sitting there for a year or a year and a half to say nothing of how long the renovations would actually take.”
Allsop’s motion to strike a deal with John Lauve went unsupported, and as a result, died.
Bladzik then made the motion to send the issue to the Community Development Committee so that they may make future recommendations to council for possible uses of the property.
The motion passed 6-1 with Allsop casting the dissenting vote.