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City expects Schoenherr-Moravian development to resume

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published July 19, 2019

STERLING HEIGHTS — Kathy Curtis lives in a condominium development near Schoenherr Road and Moravian Drive in Sterling Heights. But she says many of her neighbors don’t know what to make of a nearby vacant edifice that occupies the intersection’s southwest corner.

“All of us in this complex, we have no idea what’s going on,” Curtis said. “All of a sudden, there was a sign that there was going to be a Tim Hortons there, and we have not been able to find out anything since then.”

Although Sterling Heights officials say construction has not progressed on the land for months, they believe that will change very soon.

The situation was discussed in a July internal city memo from City Development Director Jason Castor to City Manager Mark Vanderpool.

According to the city, Leonardo Plaza LLC began construction on a development by Schoenherr and Moravian in the fall of 2017, and work progressed through the summer of 2018. A “masonry shell” emerged, and utilities were put in, Castor’s memo said.

But the work stopped in the fall of 2018, and the city’s building official reportedly reached out to the project’s superintendent to get an update on what was going on.

“At that time we were told they were having difficulty finding masonry contractors to install the decorative face brick on the outside of the shell, but the developer was reviewing quotes and performing interviews to select a contractor,” the memo states.

However, the city reportedly did a site inspection July 9 and reported that no further work seemed to have been done since the previous fall.

The City Development Department said that it has been in touch with the property owner, Nick Lavdas, and heard explanations that work was on the way and being planned. But an absence of work caused the department to order the development to clean the site and put fencing there.  

According to the memo, the case also went to the Ordinance Board of Appeals in June, and the board reportedly denied a 30-day extension on the matter. Nevertheless, the city and the property owner reportedly agreed to meet  July 12 to discuss the project’s status.

As a result, as of the week of July 15-19, the owner’s representative reportedly committed to producing a construction schedule, adding 10 feet of sidewalk, adding a site notification sign, renewing expired permits, repairing soil erosion, and cleaning up weeds and “miscellaneous material scattered around the site.”

Over the next couple of weeks, the property’s block work was expected to resume so that masonry brick could be added, the memo states.

“While a full construction schedule is required to be submitted, the owner’s representative indicated that all site work would be completed by the end of fall,” the memo states. “We are cautiously optimistic that meeting with us and committing to complete the work will deliver the project as originally expected.”

On July 18, Castor told the Sentry that progress was being made, and the developer has cooperated in matters such as re-establishing expired permits.

“They did provide us with a construction schedule, and it does indicate that it will be completed this fall still,” he said. “Over the past weekend, they did install the sidewalk. The site was weed-whipped and trimmed up around the inside. They were out there on-site to take care of their soil erosion measures.”

The city says it will continue to monitor progress on the project. It added that the Leonardo Plaza LLC didn’t inform the city on which tenants might occupy the completed structure, though Castor said at last correspondence, it didn’t seem like a Tim Hortons would still be part of it.  

A representative from Leonardo Plaza LLC could not be reached for comment by press time.

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