Rosie O’Grady’s closed down last summer, but owner Brian Kramer has been working to fill its space with a new seafood restaurant, which he hopes to open soon.

Rosie O’Grady’s closed down last summer, but owner Brian Kramer has been working to fill its space with a new seafood restaurant, which he hopes to open soon.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Owner of former Rosie O’Grady’s finding issues with redevelopment plans

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 9, 2022


FERNDALE — Last year, Rosie O’Grady’s shut down in the summer and, a month later, plans were made official for what was to replace it.

The owner of the location, Hometown Restaurant Group, which formerly went by Kramer Restaurant Group, received approvals for a mixed-use space centered around a seafood restaurant and apartments at the 279 W. Nine Mile Road location.

As it stands, what’s been proposed by developers is to open a new seafood restaurant called Atlantic and Pacific this fall. There also are plans, according to city documents, to expand the site to a five-story building that holds 28 apartments.

Aspects of the project, however, are up in the air, according to Brian Kramer, owner of Hometown Restaurant Group, who stated there have been issues trying to get the project to work financially.

The issue at hand, Kramer said, is there isn’t any parking for the apartments and that he’s nervous about investing millions of dollars into an apartment complex and then telling residents they have nowhere to park.

Kramer initially believed he was able to get parking spaces in The dot reserved for residents. But from what the city told him, the spots he would get were non-exclusive.

“They’re willing to get me the spots on a non-exclusive basis, which basically means there might be 200 spots that are available and they might give 400 passes out,” he said. ‘There’s no guarantee of getting a parking spot even though you have a pass.

“At the end of the day, it just comes down to we don’t have parking for the tenants and it’s not a gamble that I can afford to take that. You know, at any point the city could say, ‘Hey, we decided to put an office building in. We’re going to give the parking to them,’” he continued. “It’s just too much of a gamble.”

City Manager Joe Gacioch said at least 32 spaces were approved for the building’s residents if they were available, which he also noted was the big issue.

“That’s the big ‘if’: if they were available,” he said. “I think Brian wants a guarantee of parking spaces at The dot, which is a public parking structure, and I can’t guarantee that in the long run. I can understand why he’d want that, but I can’t guarantee that.”

Kramer stated that they’re trying to scale down the project, but what they’re trying to do now is do the development in two phases by opening Atlantic and Pacific on the first floor and a bakery-type concept in the back of the building. They’re also working with Community and Economic Development Director Roger Caruso on another issue with the project, which is how much of the patio they can enclose.

According to Gacioch, Ferndale’s zoning ordinances state that if a developer wants to modify the existing footprint of a building, it clashes with a zoning ordinance that requires the project to go vertical with another story.

Kramer was hoping to have Atlantic and Pacific open by now, but because he needs the patio space along Nine Mile, he has to build up on the building.

“I wish I knew then what I do now, because I probably would have changed some things, but I can’t spend $8 million-$10 million on a development,” he said. “With restaurants, people expect to find parking and walk. With their home, they want to park right in their home and go in.”

Gacioch said that Kramer can modify the building in any way he wishes, but the ordinance, which is about reinforcing the idea of density and investment in the downtown, must be followed.

“It could be residential. It could be office. He could build an upper store mezzanine part of his restaurant. However he does it, it’s really up to him,” he said. “But the bottom line is, he asked for an opinion on the ordinance, we gave it to him, and what he wanted to do triggered an ordinance. The ordinance is related to zoning policy, and that’s city policy. So we abide by the ordinances … on the books.”

Conversations have been ongoing between Hometown Restaurant Group and Ferndale’s Community and Economic Development Department on finding a solution to the issue.

“Roger’s been having active conversations with him, actually giving him all the options that he has, understanding that (Kramer’s) hesitant on moving forward with the residential, and we also understand that he wants to move forward with improving his property, and we want him to improve his property, too,” Gacioch said.