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United Apartments owner wants to buy, demolish SBX, Kaya building

Developer must first get approval from Mount Pleasant City Commission to rezone the property

A local developer wants to buy and potentially demolish the former SBX Bookstore, which also houses Kaya Coffee House.

Rick McGuirk, owner of United Apartments, is working to purchase the building after the property is rezoned to allow residential housing.

Mount Pleasant's Planning Commission recommended McGuirk's request to rezone the property Thursday during their regular meeting. The proposal will now go in front of the Mount Pleasant City Commission, which must hold a public hearing before they make a decision. 

The new ordinance would go into effect 30 days after approval. McGuirk made the request with authorization from the building’s current owner, Brad Ballein. The building has been on the market since 2014.

If city commissioners rezone the property, Kaya Coffee House could legally remain in its location. However, Mcguirk said the building would have to be demolished if he wants to build residential housing.

"Time will tell and we'll wait to see what options are available," McGuirk said. "Rehabbing the current building into a multi-family use is not an option so it would be a demolition, I imagine." 

Planning Commissioner Sue Horgan said she was hesitant to agree. She said the location is good for commercial use due to its proximity to Central Michigan University. Horgan said the building should either stay a commercial building, or have it be for mixed use.

A mixed-use zone allows businesses and renters to share the property. 

Under the current zoning ordinance, SBX cannot be converted into a mixed-use building. The city is in the process of changing its zoning ordinances, which should conclude in spring. Horgan said the Planning Commission should postpone the proposal until those new ordinances have been adopted.

“This property is so unique and we have to ask ‘what do we want here?’” Horgan said. “This deserves some thought and exploration before we make changes.”