In the News



Shoppes on Main project advances with land transfer agreement
Mark Johnson, Gaylord Herald Times
March 26, 2015


GAYLORD — The Shoppes on Main project continued to move forward Monday after the Gaylord City Council unanimously approved an agreement bringing three Livingston Township parcels into the city.

During the meeting, a public hearing was held in consideration of a PA 425 agreement, transferring property into the jurisdiction of the city.

Three parcels, the Platte property, including Little Caesars Pizza and Otsego County Habitat for Humanity; Community Financial property directly east of the Platte property; and the Lochinski property off of Winifred Road northeast of the Community Financial property, will be transferred from Livingston Township to the city of Gaylord under the agreement.

Part of the reasoning for the transfer dealt with Livingston Township's inability to supply sewer and water utilities to the site. Joe Duff, city manager, said the city is able to meet these needs.

“There are already utilities to the property,” Duff said. “This has all been addressed.”

Other factors in the transfer include land area and land uses, assessed valuation and increase in business.

The agreement will go into effect once the properties are officially owned by JY Holdings, LLC, a limited liability company represented by John Ovington, who is also president of TBO Development Company, Inc., which is responsible for the Shoppes on Main project.

Once this is done and the agreement goes into effect, it will last for 10 years. At the conclusion of the agreement, the parcels will be annexed into the city through a resolution approved by the city and township.

Incentives of 3.5 mills would be given to Livingston Township for 10 years as well. The township currently receives 1 mill.

Though the council approval of the agreement may be one of the smaller steps in the whole process for the Shoppes on Main project, Ovington said he was still happy to hear the agreement is all but done, allowing the project to continue.

“I'm extremely happy,” he said. “It is not a huge step, but it is still another step completed.”

Ovington was in Gaylord Tuesday to meet with officials from the city, Livingston Township, Otsego County Road Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation and others to discuss road improvements he had suggested as part of the project.

These improvements include the addition of a road to connect Winifred Road to M-32 with the possibility for a stoplight at the intersection. Paving of Winifred Road was also proposed with costs covered by Ovington.

Ovington said he could not release the names of the tenants who will be occupying the retail, restaurant and office spaces within the complex as negotiations continue.

With the wheels clearly in motion for the project, Ovington said he was satisfied with how the process has been moving along.

“Things have been going great,” he said. “Everyone has been extremely helpful and supportive. We are very excited and can't wait to get construction started.”

Ovington said he hopes to officially have ownership of the properties by midsummer. Once the properties are in his ownership, construction will begin shortly after.

New city streetlights approved

• The council approved a resolution agreeing to a contract with Consumers Energy for the installation of five new streetlights.

Total cost of installation for each streetlight is $100. A monthly energy charge of $28.11 per light also will be assessed on a monthly basis.

The lights will be placed at the following locations: near the intersection of Elkview Drive and Grandview Boulevard, Elkview Drive and Commerce Boulevard and three locations on Mankowski Road.

All of the lights will be installed on existing poles, with the exception of the light at the intersection of Elkview and Commerce.

Ed Tholl, Department of Public Works superintendent, said though more may be needed, he was happy to see these new lights approved.

“Right off hand, I can think of a couple (locations where streetlights are needed),” he said. “But, I'm just glad we can get these five.”

Councilman Bill Wishart motioned to approve the contract with Consumers Energy and the council voted unanimously in approval.





Council approves sign variance, sets Shoppes on Main hearing
Mark Johnson, Gaylord Herald Times
February 25, 2015


GAYLORD — City Council approved a variance Monday that will allow the Alpine Executive Center to install a new sign on its property while removing two that are currently on the property.

The variance allows for the addition of a 6-by-10 foot illuminated changeable letter sign at the 400 W. Main St. location, while removing the previous changeable letter sign, as well as a monument-style sign on the ground and another sign in front of the property where the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall once stood.

“I think it will look better,” said Vince Halek, owner of the Alpine Executive Center. “This will be great for the building.”

The new sign will replace the changeable letter sign located beneath the 3-by-16 foot Subway sign. According to Travis Hewitt, city treasurer, the variance will allow for the installation of the new sign, bringing the total square footage of the pylon sign to 108 square feet, 28 square feet over the maximum of 80 square feet.

Halek said these changes will help eliminate the cluttered look the property currently has.

“I'm not increasing the signage I have,” he said. “I'm just decreasing from three signs to two.”

Councilman Bill Wishart's motion to approve the variance application was seconded by Councilman Gerald Campbell and approved unanimously.

Public hearing set for Shoppes on Main development

The council unanimously approved a motion to set a public hearing at its meeting Monday, March 9, at Gaylord City Hall, 305 E. Main St.

During the hearing, the council will consider the authorization of a Public Act 425 agreement with Livingston Township, which would transfer the property, owned by TBO Development Company, Inc., into the jurisdiction of the city.

Through the agreement, the site will be serviced with sanitary sewer and water utilities through the city, a service Livingston Township would not have been able to provide.

At the conclusion of the 10-year agreement, the parcels will be annexed into the city through a city and township approved resolution.

City Manager Joe Duff said incentives of 3.5 mills will be given to Livingston Township for 10 years. Currently, the township receives 1 mill.

The city and Livingston Township would both need to approve the agreement before it can be executed.

Veteran's Community Action Team proposed for Gaylord, Northern Michigan

Council members and those in attendance reviewed a presentation from Douglas Robinson, local veterans employment representative in the Workforce Development Agency for the State of Michigan.

Robinson discussed the Michigan Veterans Community Action Teams Project, a program through the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, designed to improve and increase private, public and nonprofit services for veterans and their families.

The model has been used in San Antonio and San Diego for the past five years and continues to grow. The project seeks to connect veterans to health, employment and other services, and also focuses on issues pertaining to veterans.

The program came to Michigan in 2013, with pilot programs set in metro Detroit — Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties — as well as west Michigan — Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa counties.

The goal of the project is to have a program in each of the 10 prosperity regions, identified by Gov. Rick Snyder as part of his initiative to standardize regions served by state agencies.

Since the initial pilot sites, the program has continued to grow, with the project most recently being brought to the Thumb Area Region 6, which includes Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

Northern Michigan was identified as a potential site for the program in 2016 and being from the area, Robinson knows of the issues veterans face in Northern Michigan.

“I'm very familiar with the veterans, the veteran's resources and the veteran's needs in our area,” he said.

Robinson asked for support from the council and also asked for a council member to join a steering committee to help bring the program to Gaylord.

The council agreed to support the project and Councilman Todd Sharrard volunteered to join the steering committee.

“I would be delighted to represent the council,” he said.





Planning commission reviews shopping center, gas station proposals
Mark Johnson, Gaylord Herald Times
February 5, 2015


GAYLORD — Plans for a 50,000-square-foot shopping center went before the Gaylord Planning Commission Wednesday and final site plans are expected over the next several months.

John Ovington, president of TBO Development Company, Inc., presented plans for Shoppes on Main, a proposed development consisting of a combination of restaurant, retail and office space, located on approximately 7.5 acres of both city and Livingston Township parcels.

The proposal calls for an office building to be constructed behind Little Caesars, 1390 W. Main St., a retail store to be built on the east side of Little Caesars, and another building, which would house three restaurants and three retail businesses, to be constructed on the former Arthur's Auto Parts and Sales property, 1360 W. Main St.

“The location is a premiere spot in Gaylord,” Ovington said. “It has been underutilized, and we want to do something nice with it.”

Plans for the project were announced in early December.

Ovington said negotiations remain ongoing with potential tenants and that he could not release potential names of businesses until all of the paperwork is completed.

The proposal includes parking spaces on both sides of the development, totaling 335, as well as a road running north and south through the western portion of the project, connecting West Main Street to Winifred Road.

Improvements to Winifred Road, currently a gravel surface, would be included, with a proposed reconstruction and extension the length of the property, installation of a curb and gutter system, and modifications for pedestrian accessibility.

The road running through the development, which would later be donated to the city, would align with the Home Depot entrance on the south side of West Main Street, allowing shoppers to access the Shoppes on Main development without having to travel on M-32. It would function like Mankowski Road does in accessing Walmart, Lowe's, the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center, Home Depot and Pineridge Plaza, where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and other stores are located.

Sidewalks also would be installed along Winifred Road, M-32 and on the road running through the development.

Once the project is completed, those involved are contemplating working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to see if a traffic light could be installed at the intersection of the new road and M-32.

The Winifred Road work would be considered a public improvement by the city, leading it to consider completing the project and borrowing the money itself, with the understanding that TBO Development would reimburse the city for the development costs over a period of approximately 15 years.

Duff previously said the city would mark a small contribution to the project, but it would be well below $100,000.

The project would have a unique look compared to other shopping centers as each business would have a storefront with its own custom designs.

“There is no need for large pylon signs, just storefronts,” Ovington said.

Terra Deming, chairperson for the planning commission, seemed encouraged with the project.

“We were very pleased with the presentation and the proposed development,” she said. “We are hopeful that MDOT, if necessary, approves the traffic light.”

Bill Wishart, city councilman, sits on the commission and was also in approval of the project.

Another area of the proposal calls for extensive landscaping, including trees and shrubs, something Wishart really liked.

“This is really exciting for the west side of town,” he said. “As a group, we believe that green is good. This will really dress up that side of town.”

Gas station proposed for Walmart

The planning commission also reviewed site plans for a Murphy Oil gas station in the northeast corner of the parking lot of Walmart, 950 Edelweiss Village Parkway.

Plans call for a 1,400-square-foot building, where customers could pay for their gas and buy snacks and other products. It would allow for eight vehicles to fuel up at one time with two pumps on each side of the building for a total of four pumping stations.

If built, the gas station would connect to existing utilities and use Walmart's stormwater system.

The development would take up 114 parking spaces, leaving Walmart with 883. Originally, Duff said Murphy Oil would need to complete a variance request for the relaxation of parking spaces, but he said a decision was made administratively that 883 spaces were sufficient and there would be no need for a variance.

However, some conditions must be complied with, including the installation of a Knox Box for the fire departments, and, before time of construction, all questions and conflicts regarding property concerns must be resolved.

The station would adopt the Alpine theme, and if there are no problems, construction would begin in May and be completed before Halloween.

A motion was passed unanimously to approve the site plan with the aforementioned conditions. Lowe's Home Improvement and others in the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center also would need to sign off on the zoning permit.





New shopping center planned for Gaylord
Mark Johnson, Gaylord Herald Times
December 3, 2014


GAYLORD — Several new businesses and an office building are planned to be coming to Gaylord as part of a proposed redevelopment project on West Main Street.

During a meeting Wednesday morning with the Herald Times, City Manager Joe Duff, Mayor John Jenkins and John Ovington, president of TBO Development Company, Inc., discussed plans for Shoppes on Main, a proposed 40,000 square foot development on the north side of Main Street.

“This is a great location, and we really want to do something special here,” Ovington said. “We have been working with the city for 13 years, and we really enjoy the area and love the city and the people.”

The development will consist of an office building behind Little Caesars, 1390 W. Main St., a retail store to be built on the east side of Little Caesars, and another building housing three restaurants and three retail businesses to be constructed on the former Arthur's Auto Parts and Sales property, 1360 W. Main St.

Ovington said he could not immediately disclose the names of the future businesses as additional work had to be completed before anything was final, but more information should be available within the next six weeks.

The development would consist of five Livingston Township parcels or approximately 7.51 acres. In addition to the old auto parts property, Ovington said they also purchased excess property from the new Community Financial Credit Union, currently being constructed.

There will be 335 proposed parking spaces available on both sides of the new development.

A portion of the proposal includes a road, which would run north and south through the western portion of the project and connect West Main Street to Winifred Road. The proposed project also calls for paving Winifred Road, which is currently a gravel road.

The road would align with the Home Depot entrance on the south side of West Main Street and would make it possible for the Shoppes on Main development to be accessed without having to travel on Main, functioning similarly to what Mankowski Road does for access to Walmart, Lowe's, the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center, Home Depot and Pineridge Plaza, where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and other stores are located.

Once the street is built, it would be donated to the city. Since the repaving job would be a public improvement, the city is considering completing the project and borrowing the money itself, with TBO Development reimbursing the city for the development costs over a period of approximately 15 years.

“It works out really well for us,” Duff said. “It doesn't put the city at any kind of a disadvantage and allows us to make sure the public improvements are done and done right and done properly.

“In other words, there are not shortcuts done and we are able to make sure these changes are acceptable to the city.”

Duff said the city has a strong relationship with TBO Development and is not concerned with reimbursement for the road portion of the project.

The city will be making a small funding contribution to the project, but Duff expects it to be well below a six-figure sum.

“It will definitely be less than $100,000,” he said. “A lot less.”

Ovington said his company has been planning and working with Livingston Township on this project for around a year.

The next step is for Duff and TBO Development to check with the city attorney about Public Act 425 agreements for three parcels not within corporation limits at the moment. This agreement would establish the property as a possession of the city as far as jurisdictional control. Duff stressed this would not be an annexation.

This agreement would allow the site to be serviced with public utilities — sewer and water — something Livingston Township could not provide. This agreement usually includes some form of revenue sharing between the township and the city, and would need to be approved by the City Council and Livingston Township.

“We've been working closely, sharing information (with Livingston Township) as we go through the process for quite some time,” Duff said.

Once the agreement is completed, the site plan will be sent for review by engineers. After the review is finished, comments collected through the review will be sent with the site plan to the Otsego County Planning Commission, where the project will be approved or denied.

The City Council also will look at the reviewed site plan, as part of the planned unit development portion, and there will be key components that will most likely be addressed before the council by the developer.

If all of this is completed, a zoning permit will be issued to TBO Development, allowing construction to begin.

Ovington said they hope to begin construction in April or May and to be open for business by the beginning of the holiday season in 2015.

“We are very excited,” he said. “It is going to be a great project, it is something good for everybody — township, city, us — it seems like a good deal for all involved.”

A continued partnership

TBO Development has been involved in Gaylord for the past 13 years and was able to close the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center project in 2003.

Since then, Duff and Jenkins both acknowledged the company has been a great partner and has been heavily involved in the community, as well as Alpenfest.

“This goes way back to when John (Ovington) first brought his proposal for Edelweiss Village, and he has always done what he said he was going to do,” Jenkins said. “He has been a major supporter and contributor to Alpenfest and we really appreciate that.

“He's not just here to build a shopping center and take our money home with him; he is here to make things really nice for our whole community, profit by it as well, but he is a big supporter of Gaylord and what we do here.”

TBO Development Company, Inc. is a commercial real estate company, located in Bloomfield Hills. To learn more about the company, visit www.tbodevelopment.com.

Read the Gaylord Herald Times for further updates.





Shopping mecca: Otsego County No. 1 in per capita retail spending
Lorene Parshall, Staff Writer Petoskey News-Review
December 9, 2011


GAYLORD — “We love Gaylord,” said Carolyn Waller as she and a friend, Erin Layton, both of Roscommon, left Jay’s Sporting Goods with big bags filled with purchases. “We shop in Gaylord at least once a month. After we leave here today, we’re heading to Alpine Chocolat Haus and probably T.J. Maxx.”

There is no question that the Gaylord area has become a major shopping hub in Michigan. That fact has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau in an economic survey completed every five years. “Otsego County has been No. 1 in per capita retail spending (money spent divided by number of population) in the state since 2007,” said Jeff Ratcliffe, executive director of the Otsego County Economic Alliance. “Not that Otsego County residents are spending that much, but we’ve been bringing in shoppers from other areas for quite a while.”

According to Ratcliffe, Grand Traverse County had held the No. 1 position because of tourist spending in Traverse City from 1982 until Otsego County rose to No. 1. Gaylord’s central location and proximity to I-75 has pushed it to the top as a market center. The increasing number of big box stores opening because of its centralized location draws consumers from places near and far.

“Everything in Gaylord is cheaper, except for the gas,” said Chris Lauterwasser of Grayling, who along with his wife, Ashley, take I-75 weekly to shop in Gaylord. Lona Gagnon of Sault Ste. Marie is one of many who get up at 3 a.m. every year the day after Thanksgiving to be among the first to sample the sales in businesses like Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx in the Alpine Crossings strip mall. “Big box stores are also beneficial to the community because they pay property taxes and provide jobs, although those jobs do tend to be income light,” Ratcliffe said.

One disadvantage of big box stores, according to research, is that only an average of 14 to 18 percent of the revenue raised, remain in the community, with most leaving the state. Two to three times more of local businesses’ revenues stay in the community because those funds continue to circulate, benefiting other locals. The solution is to entice the customers of big box stores to local shops. Gaylord’s officials are working hard to ensure that happens.

“The DDA (Downtown Development Authority) has put grants of over a million dollars in the hands of businesses to improve the facades of downtown buildings,” said Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff, who is also the DDA director. “We’ve hired a marketing consultant and have come up with a new slogan, ‘Unconventional, Unexpected: Downtown Gaylord.’ We’re spending over $20,000 this year in ads on TV, print, radio, the Web and a billboard in Houghton Lake.”

Duff said Gaylord is already pulling in customers with its unique “destination stores” like The Old Spud Warehouse, G. Willikers, Saturn Booksellers and Alpine Chocolat Haus.

Mackinac Island resident Barb Humphrey, who purchased a freezer recently at ABC Warehouse, confirmed that destination stores are what draws her to Gaylord’s downtown. “I take the ferry about once a month to shop at Gaylord’s big box stores,” Humphrey said. “About every third trip I go downtown to Ben Franklin Crafts and Homespun Antiques and Crafts and to eat at a restaurant. I’d go even more often if there were more craft stores and antique shops.”

Paul Beachnau, director of the Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, said Gaylord has emerged as a prime destination over other popular Northern Michigan shopping destinations. “Big box stores have catapulted us into being a regional shopping center for Northern Michigan,” Beachnau said. “Before that people went to Traverse City or Petoskey. It is the caliber of our big box stores and our downtown merchants who specialize in merchandise and services not available in the bigger stores that is bringing people to the area.”

Now that Otsego County has become the major shopping hub in Michigan, more and more shoppers may be drawn to the area like Jan Corbiere and Cheryl Maughan, who with a carload of friends, recently crossed the border from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to shop at Kohl’s. “I always shop in Traverse City when I come to the states,” Maughan said. “I haven’t been to Gaylord for years, but I wanted to see what’s going on here.”





Petoskey News Review
Council: Big boxes spur more jobs, business
January 24, 2007|By Frank Michels, Staff Writer


GAYLORD - The Gaylord City Council has extended the welcome mat for big box stores in the city, citing the benefits of tax and job generation from such developments.

After debating a City Planning Commission request to enact a moratorium until March 12 against big box stores, the City Council at its Monday night meeting rejected the idea and also went on record opposing additional regulations for big box stores. Councilmember Russ Jan, who is recovering from major surgery, was not present.

"I've lived in Gaylord all my life and I find it hard to swallow," Toni Brown, planning commission vice chairperson said of the council's rejection of the board's recommendation. "That's just my opinion," she continued, reacting to the council's action denying the planning commission's request for the temporary moratorium, and council's vote not to pursue any additional information about regulating big box developments.

"As a previous retail person, I just think local people have been here forever, and we just can't let humungus stores move in because eventually we'll lose Main Street (merchants)," Brown asserted.

The city's planning commission, in a two-page letter discussed at Monday night's meeting, had requested the council enact a temporary moratorium on approving any big box developments. The planning commission's letter, signed by its chairperson Lois Skinner, urged the city to enact the temporary moratorium to allow the planning commission "an opportunity to research the true impact big box developments would have on our city and to draft recommendations to you regarding these types of developments."

The planning commission was concerned about possible negative economic impacts, such as loss of smaller businesses, jobs, the impact to city services and even aesthetics.

But City Manager Joe Duff and councilmembers saw the issue in a different light.

Duff, who recommended council reject the moratorium request, said big box developments like the Edelweiss shopping center actually have a positive economic impact on the community. The Wal-Mart Supercenter and Lowe's, both considered big boxes, are located at the Edelweiss shopping center.

The Edelweiss development, Duff said, has spurred other businesses to locate in the area, creating more jobs. He pointed to jobs created by the big box stores and other new jobs created by new businesses Applebee's restaurant, Walgreens, Starbucks Coffee and Advanced Auto Parts.

The community also benefits in other financial ways, according to Duff.

"The Edelweiss tax base cannot be ignored," he said. As a result of that development, Duff said the schools annually receive $300,000; the county $60,000; and the city $200,000.

Gaylord Downtown Development Authority Director Sherry Schuster echoed Duff's view that the city benefits, overall, from the big box stores. She said while smaller downtown businesses must offer special niche merchandising, the big box development in the area serves to make Gaylord a regional shopping destination attracting even more shopping traffic downtown.

Duff further argued that enacting even a temporary moratorium against big box development would be sending the "wrong message" to Meijer Inc., which is now negotiating with the city for water and sewer services to serve its planned 207,364-square-foot grocery and retail store and gas station development. Both Duff and Mayor Gladys Solokis pointed to the partial redevelopment of the old Wal-Mart store, now occupied by Big Lots and Dunham's Sporting Goods as additional spin-off development as a result of Wal-Mart moving into Edelweiss.

Planning Commission concerns
• Potential loss of established, smaller businesses, including a loss of jobs, from those who may not be able to compete with a big box;
• Increased costs to city to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure necessary to support the project;
• Expense incurred by public safety officers to provide the police services required by big boxes relating to returned checks, shoplifting and accidents that occur on the property; and
• Large structures that remain unoccupied, due to their unmarketability, for extended periods of time if a current big box tenant decides to vacate or relocate from the property.

Ideas to regulate big box stores
City Planning Commission ideas for regulating big box development:
• Place a square footage cap on stores that may be built;
• Require stores over a certain square footage to obtain a special-use permit - further conditioned upon certain regulations and/or restrictions being imposed that are specific to their development. These include aesthetic characteristics, larger green space and public areas, parking lot configuration, safe pedestrian accessibility throughout the property, play areas, architecture, maximum lot coverage requirements, etc.
• Require traffic and impact assessment studies be submitted as part of the development package;
• Agreement between the city and developer relating to the maintenance and reuse of property in case the retail store vacates. The agreement could include an exit strategy, or;
• Simply, a demolition bond in case the property is vacated.

What is a big box?
What is a "big box" store?
• Big box stores are defined as "retail stores, selling a wide range of merchandise, from large household appliances to items such as groceries and pharmaceuticals, that occupy more than 50,000 square feet;
• Big box stores typically range between 90,000 and 200,000 square feet.
• The name big box is derived from the "look" of the structures.
• A few examples of big boxes in Gaylord include the Wal-Mart Supercenter (200,000 square feet), Home Depot, Lowe's and Kmart.

Source: Gaylord City Planning Commission





State, city square off in dispute over Edelweiss Village sign
June 01, 2004


GAYLORD - A 100-foot pylon sign to advertise the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center and Ruby Tuesday's restaurant that had been under construction is now in limbo.

The sign, which city officials say was approved by the City Council and Planning Commission as part of a planned unit development (PUD) for the Edelweiss Village center, now apparently is disputed by the Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT). Two billboards would be at the top of the pole and would be similar to the Hampton Inn/Bob Evans sign nearby.

Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff said he's arranged a meeting Tuesday with officials from MDOT and the shopping center developers.

Duff said the sign had been under construction, but was stopped by MDOT officials, who, according to Duff, said an MDOT permit was needed to construct the sign.

"A few of us noticed a sign going up and didn't remember a permit being granted for it," said Bonnie Bussard, MDOT Transportation Service Manager. Next week's meeting will be attended by Duff, Bussard and developers for the purpose of sorting through the process. "This will be a fact-finding mission," Bussard said, adding, "They will still be required to go through the permit process." Anyone wanting to put up a billboard or sign must fill out an MDOT permit application, which asks where the sign will be, what size it will be, and what it will say. "If it meets our criteria and policies, then the permit is granted," Bussard said.

Duff maintains the sign should be allowed to be built. "Evidently the ground pole was approved with the PUD. It advertises the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center and Ruby Tuesday's as well. That was shown on the original plans approved by the Planning Commission as well as the City Council. The city issued a permit and the county issued a permit as well because the developer complied with the ordinance. And then the state came along and said a sign permit would have to be approved from their end," Duff said. "So we're waiting to get that resolved. From a local level, we're all trying to find out what's going on," he added.





Gaylord Herald Times

Lowe's to start construction at Edelweiss Village in spring

Frank Michaels, Staff Writer
Published: January 7, 2004


GAYLORD - As the initial phase of construction at the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center is nearing completion, another phase - construction of 135,526-square-foot Lowe's store - is poised to begin this spring. The home improvement store will be located at the west end of the shopping center, just west of the center's retail stores.

Construction on the 204,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, located at the east end of the 50-acre shopping complex along Dickerson Road, is expected to be completed by the end of February or early March, John Ovington, president of TBO Realty and managing member of OGD Realty of Auburn Hills, has said. Ovington is the project's developer. Ovington earlier noted Old Navy had signed a letter of intent for the second phase, and that Michael's, a nationwide arts and crafts chain, was considering signing onto the shopping center.

City Manager Joe Duff said it's his understanding that Wal-Mart plans to move from its existing store to the new supercenter at the end of February or early March. Duff said construction on the Lowe's building is expected to begin in early spring. The completion and opening dates are not yet known. The Lowe's site plans, submitted in December, are being reviewed by city officials and the city's engineer for compliance with the previously approved site plan for the project. Once compliance has been determined, Lowe's will be able to obtain a building permit. Duff said the 56,057-square-feet of general retail space - located between the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Lowe's - will be completed within the next couple of weeks and turned over to the retailers for interior completion.

About Lowe's
Lowe's Companies Inc. is a $26-billion retailer of a complete line of home improvement products and equipment. The company serves more than seven million do-it-yourself and commercial business customers each week through 875 stores in 45 states. Lowe's is the world's second largest home improvement retailer and the 14th largest retailer in the United States. Lowe's is in the midst of an aggressive expansion plan, opening a new store on average every three days. Lowe's is an active supporter of the communities it serves. Through the Lowe's Heroes volunteer programs and the Home Safety Council, the company provides help to civic groups with public safety projects and shares important home safety and fire prevention information with neighborhoods across the country. A Fortune 100 company, the 57-year-old company employs more than 130,000 people.

Lowe's is committed to understanding and reflecting the communities' diverse cultures in their staffing, business partnerships and the products sold. The company is committed to making diversity and inclusion a natural part of the way the company does business. Lowe's has been a publicly held company since Oct. 10, 1961. Stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with shares trading under the ticker symbol LOW. Source: www .lowes.com (corporate Web site)

Edelweiss Village Shopping Center Retailers

Wal-Mart Supercenter , Lowe's, China One Buffet restaurant, Check n’ Go, Grondin's, Claire's, Dress Barn, Dollar Tree and Fashion Bug.





Gaylord Herald Times

Lowe's to join 'Edelweiss Village': Shopping center opening now set for March

Published: September 17, 2003


GAYLORD - Wal-Mart shoppers won't be doing their holiday shopping at the new Gaylord super center this year. The Wal-Mart Supercenter, part of the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center previously scheduled to open this fall, isn't scheduled to open until mid-March of 2004, according to John Ovington, managing member of the Edelweiss Associates, LLC. However, it looks like the center will be nearly fully occupied when it does open. "We're finalizing our deal with Lowe's and Old Navy," Ovington said. "We’ve agreed on the basic business terms, we're just finalizing the details."

Several other, smaller tenants will likely sign agreements in the next month, bringing the center's occupancy up to 95 percent. It is currently 85 percent pre-leased, according to Ovington. While some tenants may choose to have a "soft" or unannounced opening in the beginning of March, Ovington expects the center to have its grand opening mid-March. Mall construction is expected to be completed by late October or November of this year.





Gaylord Herald Times

New millage would fund future upgrades: City wrapping up 2003 street projects
September 10, 2003|By Frank Michels, Staff Writer


GAYLORD - The expected completion later this week of various road projects in the city will mean motorists will not have to dodge construction barrels and manhole covers protruding into the roadways. Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff told City Council members at Monday night's meeting that the city's infrastructure project associated with the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center project should be completed by today or Thursday.

Duff said the general contractor, H&D, is expected to complete the placement of the top course of asphalt on Mankowski Road and Dickerson Road by today. And several local streets - Wisconsin Street north of Main Street and Fourth Street - that have been under reconstruction by MDC Inc., general contractor for the local streets projects, are also nearing completion and should be finished by Friday or Saturday.

"The street projects are on time," Duff said. The local streets under reconstruction have been funded by a 10-year local streets millage of 4.4 mills which expires this year. Over the past 10 years that millage has generated more than $5 million for local street and infrastructure improvements. Duff said the city has nearly eight miles of major streets and 18.08 miles of local streets, and during the last 10 years, as a result of the millage, the city has been able to rebuild 40 percent of the major streets and nearly 30 percent of the local streets.

Because of the success of those improvements, council voted unanimously Monday night, on a recommendation of the council's local streets committee, to place on the November election ballot a request for renewing a reduced local streets millage of 4.1513 mills for 10 years. That would permit the remaining streets that need improvement to be upgraded. As the election approaches, Duff said, the local streets committee will develop a list of the local streets to be improved. North Ohio Street was one street that can be expected to be included.

Duff said the reduced millage, as a result of increasing property values, will yield about $550,000 annually, about the same as the millage that is expiring. He said the cost to a homeowner whose home is valued at $100,000 would be about $207 yearly for the millage.

Councilmember Pat Mankowski, who praised the improvements to city streets over the past 10 years, said the city needs to actively reach out to city residents to inform them of the progress that has been made. Winning citizen approval to renew the millage "won't be a cakewalk," Mankowski said.





Gaylord Herald Times

Lowe's may join Edelweiss center

Peter Comings, News Editor
Published: June 16, 2003


GAYLORD - Working toward a February 2004 opening date, developers of the Edelweiss Village Shopping center have announced the signings of a half dozen businesses which will support the first anchor tenant, a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Developer John Ovington, president of TBO Development Company, Inc. and managing member of OGD Realty, LLC of Auburn Hills, said this week his firm has finalized lease agreements with Fashion Bug, Shoe Show, Dress Barn, Dollar Tree, Continental Rental, a Chinese restaurant "and various smaller" businesses, many of which already are found in the Pine Ridge Plaza with Wal-Mart on M-32 West.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter is expected to be 204,000 square feet with the remaining stores occupying 60,000 square feet in phase one of the project, now under construction off Dickerson Road. Ovington confirmed discussions have been renewed with Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse to serve as the second anchor in phase two of the 53-acre project. He also noted Old Navy has signed a letter of intent for the second phase, and that Michael's, a nationwide arts and crafts chain, is considering signing onto the shopping center. "Depending on what Lowe's does (phase two) could possibly start this year," said Ovington.

The entire project was approved in concept by Gaylord City Council members last year as a planned unit development (PUD). Council would still have to approve particular building plans. "I know we're getting an approximately 4,000-square-foot building," said Dan Garrow, regional manager for Bay City-based Continental Rentals, which rents furniture and home appliances with the option to buy. The company opened its first store in the Pine Ridge Plaza in 1993. The current building is roughly 2,000 square feet in size, said Garrow. "I haven't seen the specs on what building we're getting but I'm excited about having a bigger showroom, there's no doubt about that," he added.

The total project cost is estimated to exceed $30 million, including construction, property acquisition, legal fees, financial and bond costs. The city's share of the Special Assessment District Bonds is about $545,327. Excavation and grading at the site and the widening of Dickerson Road between M-32 and Borden Drive are currently under way. "It will all be a lot easier over there at the new location," observed Margaret Budd, 17, of Grayling, who was shopping at Fashion Bug Friday morning at the Pine Ridge Plaza.





Gaylord Herald Times

Van Tyle Road not alternative truck route, officials warn
May 28, 2003|By Peter Comings, News Editor


GAYLORD - Semi-tractor traffic seeking ways to get around construction on Dickerson Road is being served notice this week that drivers cannot use Van Tyle Road to get from M-32 to points south. Traffic in general is just starting to find its way around the construction zone, an area that will be closed to through-traffic for the next six weeks.

"It was my impression we could maybe let them go through (Van Tyle) during this, but the residents called up," said Mike Roper, Otsego County Road Commission manager. Roper met by phone with Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff and Bagley Township Supervisor Shirley Jenkins, all agreeing truck traffic won't be allowed to use VanTyle Road as an east-west connector from South Townline Road to Dickerson. Heavy trucks can follow South Townline Road along the west side of the Otsego County Airport to Milbocker Road or use I-75 or Old 27 South to reach West Otsego Lake Drive.

At least one area business said car traffic had not been affected and Otsego County EMS/Rescue Director Jon Deming said ambulance crews are updated daily by construction crews. "We were busy. It hasn't affected us," Brenda Heskin, hostess and server at Ruby Tuesday, said Wednesday. "We sent two servers home before they even started (Wednesday) but we had every table full." "We've adapted," said Deming. "Just like we did on M-32 East (in Johannesburg). The staff is well aware of what's going on. We've got a really good network in our county."

Gaylord Police Chief John Jenkins indicated initial signage problems had led to problems at the beginning of the week with semis turning south onto Dickerson from M-32 before realizing the road was closed. Jenkins and Duff both indicated those problems had been addressed through moving signs and adding flagmen at key locations.

"We don't want to not encourage people to frequent the businesses," said Duff. "The signage is out now which indicates what businesses are open and this is the way to go to reach those businesses. Those are maintained daily by the contractor. We have communicated by memorandum to all the businesses south on Dickerson Road and the ones in our industrial park as well. We sent them a copy of their construction schedule and also sent another memorandum to remind them that VanTyle is not to be used for truck traffic."

The Otsego County Sheriff's Department will have patrol vehicles in the area on a daily basis and will initially offer warnings to trucks violating the VanTyle Road restriction.





Petoskey News Review

Road work starts for shopping center
CAUTION AHEAD:
May 21, 2003|By Frank Michels, Staff Writer


GAYLORD - Construction on the city's $1.3-million roadway and public improvements associated with Edelweiss Village shopping center project is now under way on Dickerson Road. H&D Inc., the city's general contractor, began the removal of Dickerson Road from Mankowski Road to the southern boundary of the shopping center site, necessitating the closure of the road to through traffic. "They (H&D) will also be removing Barnyard Boulevard and excavating for the north-south access road and clearing that for the new roadway," according to Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff.

Construction is expected to last all summer with completion hoped for by Oct. 1. Duff said H&D's contract with the city requires completion of the project by no later than Nov. 30. Duff said motorists should use caution when they're driving near the construction zones. He said all businesses in the affected areas will be accessible to motorists, although at times there may be detours and other construction activities that may cause inconvenience.

The city council authorized the start of construction at its May 12 meeting even though there was a glitch in the sale of bonds to finance the project. The cost of the project is being shared by the city, Wal-Mart and the developer, Edelweiss Village Associates LLC. The city had hoped to have the bonds sold earlier this month, but couldn't because a financial disclosure statement required from the developer had not been obtained in a timely way by the city's bond attorney.

The 15-year special assessment bonds in the amount of $955,000 will cover Wal-Mart's and the developer's share of the public improvement costs. The city's share of the costs, about $610,000, will come from general obligation bonds over a 10-year term.

Council, on Duff's recommendation, voted unanimously to authorize the start of construction. Duff said he was comfortable proceeding because Wal-Mart had already deposited $700,000, its share of the public improvements, in the city's construction fund and because the developer "is highly motivated."

"The disclosure document that the bond attorney needed from the developer is now in hand and the bond sale can proceed," Duff said. The bonds have been advertised for a sale date of May 29 and the city council has scheduled a special meeting to proceed with the sale at 4 p.m. on same day.

May construction schedule
Week of May 19: Removal of Dickerson Road and Barnyard Boulevard surface and sewer lines; clearing for north/south access road from M-32 at Meecher Road

Week of May 26: Removal of Dickerson Road and Barnyard Boulevard surface and sewer lines; clearing for north/south access road from M-32 at Meecher Road





Petoskey News Review

Engineers recommend city accept $1.3-million improvement bid
April 17, 2003|By Frank Michels


In a written recommendation, Larry M. Fox, a professional engineer with Capital Consultants Inc., who designed the infrastructure project, said the bids for the project came in 10 percent below the initial projection of roughly $1.5 million. Council deferred action on accepting the bid until its next meeting, scheduled for April 28.

Because the developers of the shopping center - Edelweiss Associates LLC - will be paying the "lion's share" of the improvement costs, they will have input on the general contractor, according to Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff. Duff said the developers will have five days to respond to the bid recommendation. "In all likelihood the developers will concur with our recommendation," Duff said. If they want the bid to go to a higher bidder, a conference would be arranged with the city for further review of the bids before a contract is awarded, Duff said.

The developer's share of the improvements, based on the lowest bid, will be about $930,000 and the city's share will be about $468,000, Duff said.

Other bidders and their bids included:

* MDC Contracting, $1.33 million (only $800 more than H&D's bid);

* M&M Excavating, $1.35 million;

* Reith-Riley Construction, $1.42 million.

The construction will include, among other things, a new access road into the shopping center from M-32 at Meecher Road where a new traffic light will be installed; widening Dickerson Road to three lanes from M-32 south to Borden Drive; and the addition of a third lane to the southbound I-75 exit at M-32. The intersections at M-32 and Meecher Road and at M-32 and Dickerson Road will both be redeveloped.

Duff said the project has come a long way since it was first proposed to the city back in August of 2001. "And they still have a long way to go," Duff said.

Fox said the engineering company has a "great deal of experience with the quality of work performed by the low bidder, H&D Inc., and feels that they are very qualified and capable of completing the work of this project."

The project is on schedule to open in 2004.





Petoskey News Review

City ready to go on Edelweiss project
February 26, 2003|By Frank Michels


City Manager Joe Duff said Duffield's appointment will allow the project to proceed expeditiously without additional council approvals. Duff said Duffield, based on advice from the city's bond counsel and financial adviser, will certify the bond amounts. A 15-year special assessment agreement approved by council earlier this month is expected to generate about $1.6 million for infrastructure and utility improvements planned for M-32, Dickerson and Mankowski roads. Duff said the city is looking at a $1.5-million cap on the special assessment bonds and a $900,000 in general obligation bonds.

The new shopping complex, which is to be anchored by a Super Wal-Mart, is likely to bring about $20 million in new development and generate about $115,900 in new tax revenue its first year. Council also unanimously approved implementing an automatic meter reading system for water and sewer bills and agreed to purchase from Municipal Supply of Portland the $106,494 in equipment needed for the system. The total cost will be spread over two years with $80,000 budgeted in the current year and the balance, $26,494, coming from next year's budget, Duff said. It's installation will also be phased in over a couple years.





Petoskey News Review

City eyes delegate approval to certify bonds for shopping complex
February 24, 2003|By Frank Michels


Earlier this month the council approved a 15-year special assessment agreement that is expected to generate about $1.6 million for infrastructure and utility improvements planned for M-32, Dickerson and Mankowski roads.

Duff said Monday night's delegate approval will allow the project to proceed without additional council approvals. "We won't have to take the bond amounts and special assessments back to the council if everything looks good with our bonding attorney and financial advisor. The delegate will be able to approve those bonds right away," Duff said.

He said the city is looking at a $1.5 million cap on the special assessment bonds and $900,000 in general obligation bonds. "We expect to be below those bids, but those are our limits to pay for roads and other public improvements," Duff said. "Once we go ahead and bid the project and get bids on the project and a firm price we'll set the bond. We don't want to borrow more than we'll need for the project. Duff has said the new shopping complex is likely to bring about $20 million in new development, generating about $115,900 in new tax revenue its first year.

The council is also expected Monday to approve the initiation of an automatic meter reading system to generate water and sewer bills. Duff said a committee has been working on this new system. He said the council will need to select a vendor for the automatic meter reading equipment.





Gaylord Herald Times

City approaching special assessment agreement with shopping center

Peter Comings
Published: February 12, 2003


The 15-year agreement, when finalized, is expected to generate $1.6 million toward infrastructure and utility improvements intended for M-32, Dickerson and Mankowski roads. The city will bond for an additional $500,000 in genera l obligation bonds, specifically for upgrades to Mankowsk i Road and the widening of Dickerson Road, south from M-32 to Borden Drive. Council members initially had intended to bond for up to $800,000 to improve Dickerson south to Van Tyle, improvements City Manager Joseph Duff said might still come if the 52-acre shopping complex is successful.

Under the terms used in Monday's motions, the city will require a letter from MichCon indicating receipt of funds for relocating a gas pipeline on the property. A letter from Duff to John Ovington, managing Member in the holding company, notes the city must also receive a letter of agreement from Wal-Mart - the one anchor tenant so far announced- that it will pay $700,000 toward the $1.6-million figure. In return, the city will assume ownership of a north-south access road off M-32 and management of the site's retention pond in addition to giving up easements on Barnyard Road. All of the changes must also be approved by City Attorney Steve DuBois and the city's bond counsel.

A closing on the associated properties to be included in the development is scheduled for Thursday. Ovington, in attendance Monday night with local realtor and developer Dale Smith - a second partner in the holding company - said after the meeting 75 percent of the projected storefronts have been leased. He declined to indicate the particular stores until after this week's closing.

In determining how the city will pay off the bond debt it incurs, Duff presented tentative figures Monday evening that the site would bring $20 million in new development, generating approximately $115,900 in new tax revenue in its first year.





Gaylord Herald Times

The latest scoop on the Gaylord area business scene

Peter Comings
Published: December 11, 2002


Progress- Developer John Ovington , President of TBO Development Company , Inc. and Managing Member of OGD Realty, LLC of Auburn Hills, said this week his firm will close deals January 101 with ten separate property owners holding a total of 53 acres of land near the intersection of Dickerson Road and M-32. The site is slated to become the future home of the edelweiss Village Shopping Center.

"We are closing shortly on the entire site and will simultaneously have a closing with Wal-Mart to purchase 20 acres of the 53 acre site for their store ," said Ovington who assured the project is on schedule to break ground in the spring of 2003 despite missing a second anchor store previously suggested to have been North Carolina-based Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

"Initially, we will construct an additional 60,000 square feet of shop space in addition to the 203, 000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter" said Ovington . As the managing partner in the firm developing the Edelweiss Village shopping center, Ovington also reported that Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse has put off the Gaylord market until the foreseeable future.

Ovington indicated that he has received approval from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation for the installation of two traffic signals in conjunction with the project. One signal will be installed at the intersection of M-32 and the "to be constructed" Edelweiss Village Parkway. The other will be constructed at the east entrance to the development, off Dickerson road.





Gaylord Herald Times

August start for Edelweiss project

Peter Comings
Published: May 15, 2002


GAYLORD - Construct ion of a 52-acre shopping complex will begin in August now that Gaylord City Council members have given their approval to the second reading of a planned unit development ordinance for the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center near M-32 and Dickerson Road. Council members passed the second reading Monday night, only altering an allowance made in the first reading for an electronic messaging board for the business' 100-foot billboard on 1-75 near the 282 interchange. The message board was removed and additional sign space granted to signs on M-32 and Dickerson Road.

John Ovington, president of Auburn Hills-based TBO Development Company, Inc., stated Wal-Mart is still the only company to have signed a lease commitment for the project for a 203,000-square-foot Supecenter. The plans present another anchor store and several smaller stores, which Ovington would not share the names of any tenants. "We have signed letters of intent with a number of retailers, but prefer not to announce (names) prematurely," he said. 'We need to obtain building permits. We'll schedule a closing in August and begin construction shortly thereafter." The property is being listed by Re-Max of Gaylord.

In a related matter, council members also approved two engineering bids from Capital Consultants for a total of $218,950 for designing and bidding public improvements. As a part of the project, Dickerson Road will be expanded to three lanes from M-32 south to Van Tyle Road and a new deceleration lane will be added eastbound on M-32 for a total cost of $2 million. The city will pay $900,000 for the City's share of the work. "That won't occur until after bids are taken," said Gaylord City Manager Joseph Duff. "We anticipate bids to be let in late July , early August with construction to start early after." After experiencing early opposition from residents concerned about traffic, lighting and the impact of the development on the community , no one spoke out against the approval Monday.





Traverse City Record Eagle

May 14, 2002

Edelweiss mall gets final OK

Gaylord commission orders sign change; $30 million mall will include Wal-Mart Supercenter

By: Dan Sanderson
Record-Eagle staff writer


GAYLORD- Gaylord City Council gave final approval for the 450,000-square-foot Edelweiss Village Shopping Center Monday. The only changes the city demanded were in signage for the development. Instead of a light-emitting display sign affixed to a 100-foot-tall billboard, city officials agreed to two 35-by- 21 illuminated signs that will be located at the M-32 and Dickerson Road entrances into the project. The billboard sign was a safety concern for motorists on 1-75 and an aesthetic concern for city officials and some residents.

'We think that will be an adequate and agreeable trade-off, "said Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff. The council also approved $218,950 in design, bid and engineering costs for public improvements needed for the project. The improvements include an access road at the intersection of M-32 and Meecher Road, widening Dickerson Road to three lanes from M-32 to Van Tyle Road, construction of pedestrian pathways, curbs and gutters on Dickerson and Mankowski Roads and water and sewer upgrades.

The city has agreed to pay $81,000 of the design and engineering costs. John Ovington, the developer and owner of TBO Development Company, Inc., said his firm would cover the remainder of the costs even if the project did not proceed. Developers are paying $1.5 million for public improvements through a special tax assessment, the City is paying $900,000 for the upgrades. Ovington said he plans to break ground in August for the $30 million project, which will include a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a second 114,313-square-foot anchor store and other stores ranging from 8,000 to 30,880 square feet.





Traverse City Record Eagle

April 24, 2002

Gaylord approves Edelweiss project

By DAN SANDERSON
Record-Eagle staff writer


GAYLORD- The Gaylord City Council has approved plans for a 450,000-square-foot shopping development, which will include a Wal-Mart Super Center.

The council by a 6-to-1 vote approved a planned unit development request for the $30 million Edelweiss Village Shopping Center. It will be located south of M-32 and east of Dickerson Road near the Hampton Inn. The council approved the project, despite recommendations from the city planning commission to reject plans for a gas station and a light emitting display sign to be mounted on a 100-foot pylon that will hold two billboards.

Council member Pat Mankowski said he was concerned about potential legal action because commercial zoning there allows for the construction of a gas station. "If you start changing zoning, perhaps they could have had us in court," Mankowski said.

Developer John Ovington, owner of Auburn Hills-based TBO Development Company, Inc., said the elimination of the gas station could have derailed the entire project. "Wal-Mart has emphatically stated that if they don't receive approval for the gas station, it’s very unlikely they will proceed with this project," Ovington said. 'Wal-Mart views the gas station as convenience for their customers who are in the parking lot and shopping at the store."

Shirley Bates, the council member who voted against the project, said she was concerned about travelers on 1-75 trying to read the message sign. "I don't feel that people can look at that sign and focus on their driving, so for me it's a safety issue," she said.

Ovington said the sign would be located halfway up the pylon and would advertise tenants within the Development, as well as Gaylord community events such as the Alpenfest. Besides a couple of letters presented to the council against the project, no one addressed the council and council members had little discussion Monday when they approved the measure.

Developers said they expect to break ground in August. The project will include the 203,622-square­ foot Wal-Mart Super Center, a 114,313-square-foot anchor store that has yet to be identified and more than 71,000 square feet of retail space to accommodate stores ranging from 8,000 to nearly 31,000 square feet.

Scott Chesley, a Bagley Township resident, recommended the council table the project so it could study the traffic issues created by a planned entrance at Meecher Road off M-32. Chesley also requested the city update its sign ordinance to address blight and eye pollution as additional billboards and signs continue to go up on 1-75 and Old 27. "Every time another 100-foot sign goes up, you diminish the Alpine Village concept that so many have worked to achieve," Chesley said in the letter.

Along with approving the shopping center plans, the council also agreed to issue $1.5 million in special assessment bonds that developers will pay back for public improvements such as roads and infrastructure. The city also will issue $900,000 in limited tax bonds for public improvements, to be paid back with the increased taxes generated by the development.

The public improvements include the Meecher Road access, widening Dickerson Road to three lanes from M-32 to Van Tyle Road, construction of pedestrian pathways, curb and gutter installation on Dickerson and Mankowski roads, and water and sewer upgrades.





Gaylord Herald Times

Council OKs PUD for Edelweiss shopping center


The motion passed by a 5-1 vote - Shirley Bates voting against- including a reversal of the planning commission's recommendation not to allow the Wal-Mart Supercenter to build a gas station in the initial phase and replacing a provision for an internally lit message board on a 100-foot billboard. "I have trouble with the LED sign," said Bates. "I have trouble with the one down (on Old 27) by McCoy Road. Even though it flashes quickly I can't concentrate on my driving. To me it's a safety issue. Traffic is always going to be an issue, but sometimes it seems like you have to create a bigger problem before MOOT (Michigan Dept. of Transportation) moves off dead center."

Planners had asked council members to withhold approval of Wal-Mart's gas station citing safety concerns regarding traffic counts. A new three-lane entrance from M-32 south into the 52-acre site is expected to be able to handle 15,000 vehicles per day. Dickerson Road will also be expanded to three lanes from M-32 south to Van Tyle. A traffic count conducted over 24 hours last week demonstrates a nearly even northbound and southbound split among the 9,468 vehicles using Dickerson Road on which developers intend to place a stop light at Ruby Tuesday's south driveway. Sixty-seven percent of the vehicles observed traveled between 26 mph and 45 mph.

Another light is still under consideration by MOOT for the intersection of Meecher Road and M-32. "I would much prefer to see no hundred-foot sign on 1-75 and see no LED message board," said planning commission member Lois Skinner who attended the meeting. "But we sent the recommendation and there was consideration on the council's part and they voted the way they see fit. What I'd like to do now is address the sign ordinances and parking ordinances so we can make sure in the future things are kept in control."

Developer, John Ovington, president of TBO development Company, Inc., and managing member of OGD Realty, LLC of Auburn Hills, addressed concerns previously expressed about the unbroken pavement landscape. While council members wait for the second reading at their May 6 meeting, attorneys for both the city and the developers are working out the details for a special assessment district which will reimburse the city for $1.5 million in road improvements around the site. Council members approved a notice of intent to issue the special assessment bonds as well as another $900,000 in general obligation bonds for the remainder of the improvements.





Gaylord Herald Times

City planners recommend

April 22, 2002
By Peter Comings - Staff Writer


GAYLORD - City planners forwarded a planned unit development (PUD) Wednesday night, recommending to City Council members by a 5-1 vote they consider final approval of a 52-acre shopping complex near the intersection of M-32 and Dickerson Road.

Planning commission member Mary Nied-zwiecki voted against the recommendation.

The PUD format allows council members to approve the 400,000-square-foot Edelweiss Shopping Center without sending it on to the zoning board of appeals for variances. A PUD must be read and approved twice by the council before it becomes effective, and Wednesday's recommendation from the planning commission comes with stipulations:

* Truck access to the stores must be moved from Dickerson Road to an as-yet undeveloped road on the south side of the project when the road is built.

* The developer, TBO Realty of Auburn Hills, must reincorporate green space into the 2,100-car parking lot.

* A storm water filtration system must be installed.

* Developers must return to the city for permission if Wal-Mart intends to build a gas station in association with the supercenter.

* A planned 100-foot highway sign on Ruby Tuesday's Dickerson Road property must have the electronic display portion removed.

Council members are expected to take up the matter Monday evening.

"The issue regarding Wal-Mart's gas station surprised me," said John Ovington, president of TBO Realty and a managing partner in OGD Realty One, the actual applicant in the project. "It's important to Wal-Mart - although they may not build it right away - that they have the right to build that at some time in the future. We'll (also) work with the city staff to add some landscaped islands in front of the parking lot to break up the landscape."

Those conditions did nothing to ease the concerns of the center's opponents, including Niedzwiecki who offered the notion the new construction would only leave one more building vacant in the existing Wal-Mart Plaza after Buy Low Foods closed two years ago.

"I've had lots of people tell me we don't need this. "The traffic of course," she said, "that's a major concern. But (Ovington) told me at the last meeting Wal-Mart would find somebody to rent their old building. He didn't say that tonight, did he?"

Larry Treul of Elmira Township touched on several items with the project he believed would negatively impact the community, including traffic, noise and light pollution, corporate profits leaving Gaylord, and the lack of existing low-income housing for the stores' employees. He asked city planners to institute a six-month moratorium on this and similarly-sized projects to "consider their impact on our community."

"None," said Treul, in a one-word response to how many of his concerns were addressed. "All over the country it's happening over and over again. Gaylord has a wonderful downtown. It's unique. The next step is they build out, invite the corporations in and build the megamalls outside of town. People go out there to shop and the downtown decays. It's going to happen here. This is a done deal."

"I think I look at it as an opportunity to bring more people into our community," said Sherrie Schuster, executive director of the Gaylord Downtown Development Authority (DDA), "have them be exposed to what we have to offer downtown, which is unique and all encompassing shopping, as well as the opportunity for people to enjoy some of the other amenities we have with the parks. We have to continue to emphasize that."

At one time the city had considered the possibility of extending the DDA's western boundaries under I-75 to include the proposed shopping center as a means of paying for road improvements to the site. In a DDA, the city captures the tax on the property value at the time the site is brought in. Any taxes collected on increased value fund the DDA.

Discussion is ongoing at the attorneys' be-tween the city and TBO Realty level pursuing a special assessment district by which developers would help pay for $2 million in road improvements. Developers will pay the cost to build a new access road off of M-32 connecting with Barnyard Boulevard, and 50 percent of the cost ($1.3 million cost to the developer) to widen Dickerson Road to three lanes from M-32 south to Ruby Tuesday.

According to estimates provided by the city's engineering firm, both the three-lane entrance off of M-32 and also Dickerson, when it is expanded to three lanes, will be able to conduct 15,000 vehicles per day.

"I would vote for it," said Gaylord Mayor Gladys Solokis. "They complied with everything the city has asked."





Traverse City Record Eagle

April 22, 2002

Edelweiss Project Heads to Council

By Dan Sanderson
Record-Eagle Staff Writer


GAYLORD- The proposed Edelweiss Village Shopping Center to include a Wal-Mart Super Center­ cleared one hurdle last week and now moves on to the city council.

And, if the discussion at the Gaylord Planning Commission last week is any indication, the 450,000 square-foot project will continue to generate discussion from residents and officials concerned about the city's destiny, as well as its traffic, appearance and fast-paced retail development.

On a 4-1 vote Wednesday, city planners approved a planned unit development designation for the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center to be located west of Dickerson Road and south of M-31 near the Hampton Inn.

The $30 million development includes a 203,622-square-foot Wal-Mart Super Center, a second undisclosed 114,313-square-foot anchor store and 71,000 square feet in additional retail space.

City planners hinged their approval on several conditions:
- Incorporating more green space into the project.
- Closing a truck delivery entrance off Dickerson Road if a bypass road is eventually built south of the project.
- Providing a filtration system for oil and water if a gas fueling station is part of the Wal-Mart project.
- Coming back to planners for approval of the fueling station.

Planners also denied a request for a light-emitting display sign developers hoped to place on a 100- foot-tall billboard.

Traffic on M-32 and Dickerson Road remained a concern for planners and residents who spoke both in favor and against the project.

"The more traffic, the better, but we've got to control it," said Robert Rooyakker, owner of the Little Caesars Pizza Parlor across the road from the planned entrance drive.

Lois Skinner was the planning commission member who voiced concern about green space.

"I feel that when push comes to shove, we should not follow the path of least resistance," Skinner said. 'We want something that is visually appealing from 1-75."

Developers said they will work with the city on that issue but would not give up the 2,100 parking spots planned for the project.

Larry Truel, an Elmira resident and opponent of several large- scale projects in Otsego County, questioned why the city wanted to bring more low-paying jobs to the community. He also wanted to know how affordable housing would be provided and the impact the project would have on school and city services.

He suggested a six-month moratorium on all retail development so that planners can study the impact of the 1.5 million square foot of retail space currently planned for the area.

Along with the Edelweiss Village development, the 400,000-square-foot GAJE Development on M-32 West in Livingston Township is scheduled to be built this year, and developers are still working on True North Crossings project in Bagley Township.

"For a county with 25,000 people, that is outrageous," Truel said. "The sign coming into town says the Alpine Village. I hope we don't change to the Alpine Metropolis."

Mary Niedzeiecki, the only planning commission member to vote against the development, said she has heard similar sentiments from many others. Niedzeiecki owns the General Nutritional Center in the Pine Ridge Shopping Center, where the current Wa-Mart is located.

"I do not feel we need this humongous development in our town," Niedzeiecki said.

She also expressed concern about future plans for the Wal-Mart store because the Buy-Low store, which closed in late 2000, is in the same shopping plaza and the building remains vacant.

John Ovington, of TBO Realty of Auburn Hills, which is handling the project, said Wal-Mart would be responsible for finding a tenant and it is rumored that a Sam's Club may move into the building.

Ovington claimed that the current Wal-Mart in Gaylord is the company's second largest producer per square foot in Michigan. The proposed super center is the largest prototype for Wal-Mart. He also added that national chains will begin to focus on the city as they learn of Wal-Mart's plans and understand that Gaylord is a regional market.

Residents who spoke in favor of the project said they want to shop in Gaylord rather than traveling to Traverse City and Petoskey.

"I'd rather have six more malls if it means the local people can keep living here, shopping here and spending their money here," Bev Robinson said.





Gaylord Herald Times

Council to discuss road improvements
April 15, 2002


Road improvements to the site on M-32 and Dickerson will cost Auburn Hills developers $1.3 million, for which the city would assume payment by issuing bonds at the time the 400,000-square-foot shopping center is built.

The shopping complex, through the special assessment, would then repay Gaylord to pay off the bonds. The city will support an additional $800,000 in cost. As announced to city council members last week, Dickerson Road would be widened into three lanes from M-32 south to Van Tyle Road. Eastbound M-32 will receive a right-turn-only lane for traffic turning south onto a new access road at the intersection with Meecher Road.

The 52-acre, $30-million complex will be anchored by a 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter and an as-yet unannounced 100,000-square-foot store.





Gaylord Herald Times

Edelweiss Traffic Issue is a City Concern

Published: April 10, 2002
Peter Comings


Council members will meet Tuesday at noon in chambers to discuss the creation of a special assessment district to fund $1.3 million in road improvements. But echoing comments made by the city's planning commission a week ago, the issues Monday had to do with the movement of cars around the $30-million, 52-acre site. "I'd really like somebody to take a look at it," said council member Pat Mankowski , expressing concern over the possible need for two traffic lights at the development's south entrance on Dickerson and at the intersection of Dickerson and Millbocker. "Whether it's Capital (Consultants), get MOOT (Michigan Dept. of Transportation) up here, get AAA. I don't care who we get. I think I want someone else's opinion here."

The 450,000-square-foot shopping center will be built around a 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter , roughly one mile north of the Air Industrial Park and Millbocker Road, which will become one of the main traffic routes for the city's second, 240-acre industrial park southwest of the Otsego County Airport. Developers Monday reiterated their plan to widen Dickerson to three lanes with the city south to Van Tyle Road. They also noted they were offering every encouragement to MOOT to place a traffic light at Meecher Road before stores opened. "MOOT typically does not approve a signal until after the project is up and built," said John Ovington, president of Auburn-based TBO Development Company, in making the presentation. "They prepare a warrant study to see if the light is required. We are attempting to have MOOT pre-approve the traffic signal, but prior to any approvals, MOOT requires actual traffic data prior to any commitments. There will be a traffic signal installed; it's just a matter of when."

Mankowski referred in his comments to the need to handle 2,000 cars on Dickerson Road. "Now we not only have (M-32) screwed up going west, we're going to screw up Dickerson. Where are we going? The state told you they're going to build (another 1-75 crossing), but that's in 10 or 12 years. It's probably going to be eight years before it's ever funded," Mankowski continued, adding his observation expanding Dickerson to three lanes would be helpful when the cross was built. "Think about the truck traffic we're pulling out there. If the industrial park does anything out there, I mean we're talking some big, big development, it's going to be awfully tough. I wouldn't want to live out there."

In addition to Tuesday's discussion on the special assessment district, the project is still subject to a site plan review Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. in the 46th Trial Court circuit courtroom in the County-City Building. Road improvements totaling $2 million initially will be funded by the city, though developers will repay $1.3 million through the special assessment district. The city's portion of road improvement costs will be repaid over five years through traditional tax revenue. Ovington stated his hopes planning commission and council members would approve the site plan and special assessment district by their April 22 meeting.





Gaylord Herald Times

$30M development proposed

April 08, 2002|By Peter Comings


The center will directly access the state trunkline across from Meecher Road. By agreement, developers and the city would share the cost of improving Dickerson Road to three lanes from M-32 south to the new Wal-Mart. The city would continue road improvements at its own expense from there south to VanTyle Road.

Total cost for all road improvements was estimated by Ovington at $1.8 million. With all of the approvals in place in time, Ovington said he is hopeful construction could begin on the single-phase development this summer.

"Traffic is obviously the big concern here," said Ovington, who brought with him conceptual approval from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) for the M-32 intersection. "The dedicated right-hand turn lane off the southbound exit ramp to 32 would help that intersection a great deal. That's strictly up to MDOT."

Citing a traffic study performed by Parsons Transportation in Detroit, Ovington indicated 23 percent of the traffic to the site would come from east of I-75; 33 percent from Dickerson Road; and the remaining balance from I-75.

Nine percent of the exiting traffic, he noted, would try to turn left to go west out of the Meecher Road intersection.

MDOT will perform its own traffic signal warrant study at the city's request once the stores are in place. All road improvements will be initially funded by the city, though developers will repay $1.2 million through the formation of a special assessment district. Ovington said he is not seeking a tax abatement.

"It sounds like this is a done deal and we're going to have this 450,000-square-foot shopping center as a use by right," said Elmira Township resident Carol Osborne, disappointed in the city's zoning ordinance. "We've got a brand new store with almost 50 percent of the traffic probably not coming from our community and a 24-hour store at that. I think we're inviting a whole new scale of development into Gaylord that is going to completely change the character of the community. I'm all for additional commercial development in that area, but not this size. You can put an Alpine theme on it and make all the employees wear lederhosen, but it's going to look like every other place. I'm concerned there hasn't been more discussion about whether this is a good development and in character with the community."

"With urban sprawl you start getting abandoned buildings closer to town. This is actually coming in toward town, Russ Jann, chairman of the Gaylord Planning Commission said after the meeting. "There are a lot of commercial properties in there already. For that size development I think it's an excellent site to do it."

Ovington left open the possibility right of way on the south side of the project could later be developed into an east-west road into Bagley Township and connected with McVannel Road.

"I think we're always ready to work with the township," said city council member and planning commission liaison Todd Sharrard. "Even before the project goes through we should start communicating with Bagley Township. Where are they headed? What's in their master plan? This is an area well suited to do it and do it right."

The planning commission will host a public hearing on the project April 17 at 7 p.m. in the 46th Trial Court room in the county-city building. City council members will hear Ovington's presentation at their Monday night meeting.





Traverse City Record Eagle

April 7, 2002

Gaylord discusses Edelweiss project

- Shopping center will feature Wal-Mart Superstore, plus another unnamed anchor store

By DAN SANDERSON
Record-Eagle staff writer


GAYLORD - City planners and developers are working to address potential traffic problems in preparation for a planned 450,000-square-foot shopping center in the city of Gaylord.

The Gaylord City Planning Commission took its first look at plans for the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center Wednesday. It will be located south of the Hampton Inn off Dickerson Road and will be anchored by" a 203 ,622-square-foot Wai-Mart Supercenter.

John Ovington , owner of TBO Realty in Auburn Hills, said he has been working on the project with Gaylord city officials for the past two years.

The project will include a second 114,313-square-foot anchor store and other stores ranging from 8,000 to 30,880 square feet. Ovington said he is not allowed to disclose the name of the second anchOr store but has previously said he was negotiating with Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouses.

Ovington said his company is putting more funds into the $30 million shopping center than a typical development in hopes of attracting more national chains, charging higher rents and garnering longer leases.

'When you do that it not only benefits and enhances the community , but it really helps us in the long run," he said.

A number of public improvements are planned for the project, including: a new north-south access road off M-32 that will align with Meecher Road; extensions on Mankowski Road; and expanding Dickerson Road to three lanes from M-32 to the southern boundary of the development.

Ovington said he is working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to get a traffic light installed at Meecher Road before the development opens, a condition that city planners likely will require because of already existing bottlenecks on M-32.

"Without a light or something to control traffic immediately, we're going to be in big trouble," said Gerald Campbell, a planning commission member.

Gaylord City Manager Joe Duff said developers are being asked to pay $1.3 million for road, sewer and water improvements. The city will pay $850,639 for construction of pedestrian pathways and storm sewers. The city also is paying 50 percent of the Dickerson Road expansion to alleviate potential traffic problems for existing businesses. The city also anticipates additiona l traffic from its new industrial park and a possible airport expansion .

"We want to be proactive with this and this is an opportune time to make these improvements," Duff said.

The city council will consider establish ing a special assessment district on the 52-acre parcel being developed to pay the city's share of public improvement costs.

The developers would pay their share through fees placed on their tax bills, Duff said.

Carol Osborne, an Elmira resident who has opposed several projects in Otsego County, said she was concerned about the scale of the project and believes it would take away from the community's character . She was also concerned that the Wai-Mart would be open 24 hours and questioned what would happen with the existing Wai-Mart store west of the planned development.

"We're going to have a dinosaur shopping center right next to this shopping center," Osborne said. "You can put an Alpine theme on the building and make all employees wear lederhosen, but it's going to end up like any other development"

Ovington said Wai-Mart, which has a 10-year lease at its current location, would be responsible for finding a tenant for the building. He said the company probably would not pay for two leases in the same community.

Ovington will present site plans to the Gaylord City Council on Monday. A public hearing is scheduled for April17, when the Gaylord City Planning Commission will consider a planned unit development designation for the project.

Ovington said he would like to break ground for the development in August and have the stores open in the spring of 2003.

Duff said the planned unit development is needed because the development probably will consist of both retail and commercial enterprises and developers want to deed to the city a storm water retention area and a 66-foot right-of-way on the south boundary of the property for a potential bypass road.





Gaylord Herald Times (MI)

City planners to get first glimpse of Edelweiss Site Plan

Published: April 1, 2002
Peter Comings


GAYLORD- Gaylord city planners will get their first glimpse of a 53-acre shopping development proposed to be built off Dickerson Road when they meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. in city council chambers. TBO Development Company of Auburn Hills offered tentative plans for the Edelweiss Village Shopping Center to the city last fall. Company president John Ovington was unavailable for comment Friday morning but said in November he was in discussions with both Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and Wal-Mart to anchor the 450,000-square-foot shopping complex.

"We're going to be looking at the entire project," Gaylord City Manager Joseph Duff said Friday morning. It should at least be engineered drawings for site plans. They came in yesterday afternoon." Duff was not aware, he said, that any particular store had been signed onto the project The development, as it was presented last fall, fronts Dickerson Road south of Mankowski Road and includes an access road south from M-32 through the now-vacant Pizza Hut building site near the corner of Meecher Road and M-32. Duff added the project will be built as a planned unit development because of the mixed uses being offered, requiring the planning commission to hold a public hearing on the matter. In the meantime, he said, city engineers will also review the site plan.

Bill Powell, traffic safety engineer with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation Travel Service Center in Grayling, said Friday developers had presented a plan for the M-32 access acceptable "in concept." Powell noted once the development is underway the city would likely request a signal warrant analysis to determine whether a traffic light is needed at the intersection. "That's one of the reasons we were adamant about the access road being in line with Meecher Road," said Powell, adding any new signal would be coordinated with the existing signal at Dickerson Road to allow for the maximum volume of through traffic.





Gaylord Herald Times (MI)

New shopping center planned

Peter Comings
Published: November 12, 2001


GAYLORD - The owner of an Auburn Hills development firm confirmed late Thursday evening he is working with local developer Dale Smith to construct a 50-acre shopping complex on Dickerson Road within the city limits. Documents received at the Herald Times last week suggest the discussed development could exist in the form of a 450,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Wal-Mart officials in Bentonville, Ark. were unavailable to comment Thursday. "We are in discussions with several retailers, including Wal-Mart and Lowe's (Home Improvement Warehouse)," said John Ovington, owner of TBO Development Company, Inc. of Auburn Hills. "At present, we do not have anything signed with any tenant."

The proposed "Edelweiss Village Shopping Center," as it was referred to in the documents, fronts Dickerson Road south of Mankowski Road and includes an access route south from the now-vacant Pizza Hut building on West M-32. Gaylord City Manager Joseph Duff stated there is no road platted in that area at this time. 'We would demolish the Pizza Hut building, create an entrance to the site and connect to the existing Barnyard (Boulevard)," said Ovington.

"This is what we're working on," said Duff, looking over the material. "It's the group Dale Smith brought to us. There is still some engineering research going on as to the size of the road. We will probably open up discussion with the Dept. of Transportation in the future." The site plan identified, but did not label square footage for, a possible Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse store - also the reported proposed first tenant for True North Crossings Mall on Old 27 South in Bagley Township. Both Otsego County and the township remain in court on the grounds improper procedure was followed in its site plan approval for that development. Lowe's Corporate officials in Wilksboro, N.C. declined to confirm their intent to build in Otsego County, indicating such information comes only upon an approved purchase or lease agreement.

Information from a study of the M-32 corridor completed last year by the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments showed the five-lane highway near 1-75 was an "area of concern" because of high traffic volumes and the number of crashes occurring near Murner and Dickerson roads. The two intersections combined for 24 accidents during the 1998 study year and mounted the highest volume of traffic in Otsego County with 23,520 average annual daily trips. Council member Pat Mankowski declined to comment on any possible, specific plans, but as the chairman of the city's Future Land Use Committee, he observed traffic is his major concern. "I'm more concerned about Dickerson Road than I am the other," he said. "Dickerson is the only flow-through traffic we have. You don't have a stop sign or light until you get to Forwards (gas station ). Now we'll probably have to put up a light for our new industrial park at Milbocker Road. And then we'll have to put one up at Scientific Brake. M-32 is a disaster due to lack of planning and we don't want that to happen again."

"We've approached the city and expressed to them the plans for the site, and our intention to work with them to address some of their concerns up front," said Ovington. "There are obvious traffic concerns at Dickerson and M-32." "We've indicated to the developers they have to open discussions with the Dept. of Transportation," said Duff. 'We've also indicated we won't move forward until MOOT looks at it and the access areas are fine with them."