Council OKs special land use for proposed storage facility

Business would be located on eastern Colonial Dodge property

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 23, 2016


EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council approved a special land use permit 4-0 for MySpace Storage at the council’s regular meeting May 17.

The proposed storage facility would be located at the former Colonial Dodge property at the northeast corner of Stephens and Gratiot.

Architect Peter Stuhlreyer told council they hope to use the bulk of the existing structure there for a modern facility, retaining the showroom and much of the frontage while adding a retail space at the corner and landscaping to make the area more visually interesting.

“I know retail walkable spaces are important in this area, so we looked at this site and its configuration,” Stuhlreyer said. “We also looked at the site across the street with five or six times the frontage without the acute angle (on the east), and it probably lends itself to a retail center a little better than us.”

Under the proposal, the storage center would be slightly taller than the existing one-story buildings in that area, and it would be open to commercial or personal use. A security wall — with indentations to keep it visually interesting — windows and trees would be on the residential sides. A retail business — ideally something complementary to the storage business, such as a UPS Store — could take over the corner. 

Legal counsel Dennis Cowan said the project is estimated to cost around $3 million to $3.5 million, but the developer would not be asking for any financial assistance from the city, such as a tax abatement or any other public costs.

The Eastpointe Planning Commission previously had voted down the special land use permit on the grounds that it would not represent an improvement to the property and neighborhood, or that it was inappropriate for the area. Cowan argued that not only was it better than the current situation, but that storage facilities exist along other major thoroughfares, like on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, without creating additional traffic problems.

“This is a significant improvement,” Cowan said. “It’s an upgrade from a vacant, unused and deteriorating property to a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled storage facility.”

He added that due to environmental contamination that needs to be cleaned up on the site, this would be a pragmatic use of the property, and it would provide a “recession-proof” business. It also would not be competing with potential retail space at the other corners, and it could help spur other businesses to look at that intersection, since two corners would now have active businesses on them.

Councilman Cardi DeMonaco asked if some sort of mural or public art could be installed on the neighborhood-facing walls. Stuhlreyer said that was a good idea, and that they would be interested in teaming with art organizations in the city as well.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Klinefelt asked if a tenant for that proposed retail space had been found already; Stuhlreyer said no one was lined up yet. Stuhlreyer said they would have to go to commercial brokers and inform them how big the space would be and when it would be available and go from there. The retail space size is limited to 2,500 square feet, he added, due to city requirements.

DeMonaco said that there is another storage facility at Eight Mile and Gratiot that has not impacted development there — the White Castle restaurant there is being demolished and rebuilt on the same property, while the gun range Action Impact opened nearby as well.

City Manager Steve Duchane said that with this approval, MySpace Storage would be ready to move in and begin work as soon as they complete the permitting process and obtain site plan approval, as long as the company does not decide to go in another direction.

Mayor Suzanne Pixley was absent from the meeting.