Sign plan approved for Saros Building

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 4, 2019

GROSSE POINTE CITY — A major new building in Grosse Pointe City is getting signs that officials say reflect its scope.

The two-story Saros Building, at 17108 Mack Avenue, is situated at the corner of Mack and Cadieux Road, on the border of Grosse Pointe Park. The City’s sign ordinance typically only allows a maximum of 50 square feet of total signage, including a wall sign and a single freestanding sign, but the developer was requesting a variance to be able to install 81 square feet worth of signage, to consist of a 28-square-foot wall sign on Mack, a 24-square-foot wall sign on the parking lot vestibule, and two freestanding signs of 14.5-square-feet apiece.

“There are not many buildings on Mack that have frontages on two primary roads,” said Brian Keesey, a principal planner with the City’s planning firm of McKenna Associates, during a May 20 City Council meeting.

Because of the size of the building and the presence of multiple tenants, the planners recommended approval of the master sign plan, with Keesey noting that “some additional signage is warranted” under these circumstances.

There will be signs at each of the two parking lot entrances.

“The parking lot is split at each entrance … so we do feel some give-and-take is warranted,” Keesey said.

In addition, the actual entrance to the building is off the parking lots, not off Mack; officials pointed out that the signs enable customers to find the building and then find the main entrance.

Keesey said the City’s sign ordinance “is pretty cookie-cutter” and “doesn’t take lengthy (buildings)” like this one into account.

The Saros Building is roughly 13,500 gross square feet; it has a garden level as well as two floors. It’s slightly larger than its predecessor, in the same location, which was destroyed in an October 2016 fire.

“The justification (for the variance) is that this is a larger building than others,” City Manager Pete Dame said. “Most buildings on Mack are one story.”

Most council members agreed, and they approved the master sign plan by a vote of 6-1.

“Given the unique size (of the building) and how our ordinance tends to be focused on smaller buildings, I don’t have a problem (with this),” City Councilman Andrew Turnbull said.

City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak echoed that sentiment.

“The proportions, overall, seem to be fitting with the building,” Tomkowiak said.

City Councilman Daniel Williams cast the sole dissenting vote.

“If we have an ordinance that restricts (the size of signs) and I’m not presented with a compelling reason (to override that), we should honor (the ordinance),” he said after the meeting. “Either we should amend the ordinance or enforce it.”