Developers one step closer to converting Todd’s Party Store into student housing


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Todd's Party Store, which closed in March 2014 after eight years of business, sits at 104 E. May St. on Sept. 22, 2015. 

A local developer's plan to convert Todd's Party Store into student housing moved forward Wednesday after receiving approval from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals.

Joe Olivieri wants to demolish the beer and wine depot at 104 E. May St. and turn it into a five-person, room and board house. The building is zoned as a non-conforming property in the M2 district, an area made up of mostly student housing.

Olivieri presented his plan to the ZBA during a public hearing at its regular Wednesday meeting. ZBA officials approved the plan, providing Olivieri significantly reduce its non-conforming elements.

Changes include barriers to prevent lawn parking and adjusting its property line. The building must also no longer sell alcohol.

Olivieri must now gain site plan approval from the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission. If approved, Olivieri hopes to raze the single-story building this year. He expects construction to being soon thereafter.

Demolition and construction will not affect surrounding roadways or student traffic.

Todd's Party Store closed in March 2014 after eight years of business at 104 E. May St. The store was owned by Todd Gurzick, who leased the property from Marshall Real Estate, according to Mount Pleasant property tax records.

Mount Pleasant residents voiced concerns about student behavior at various city meetings throughout the year. Many have equated more student housing to the increase in student partying.

Zoning Board member Lara Raisanen raised the issue again in discussion. With new student housing comes new student problems, she said, especially in an area so close to residential neighborhoods. Todd's Party Store is a short city block away from the R3 residential district.

The property was originally zoned to close at 11 p.m. -- an assurance Raisanen will not have with students.

"The problem is the party store closes at 11 p.m.," Raisanen said. "Student parties do not."

William Marshall of Marshall Real Estate said there are nuisance party clauses in all of his leases. If a group of student renters host a party, they can be fined $300. Marshall said his local leasing agent will routinely monitor student properties on weekends to hold students accountable.

Brian Kench, Mount Pleasant's building official, said Marshall properties have a short record of violations, most of them dealing with trash.

In a rare show of resident support, Nancy Fulton spoke in favor of changing the store into a student dwelling during public comment.

"I'm one of those people who can sit on their front porch and see the property," Fulton said. "I like the property and I'm a big Detroit Tigers fan, but I will not miss the building. I wish there were only going to be four people living in the house, but I can understand the need to have one more person.

"It's still lower than what we've had in the past."

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