Hartland panel backs Riverwalk apartment development
Village Board to hear from public at hearing Dec. 22

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 16, 2014

HARTLAND - A developer’s proposed revamp of downtown Hartland received a nod of approval from a panel Monday, but further steps in the review process are still underway.

The village’s Joint Architectural Board and Plan Commission recommended moving forward with basic details of the proposed Riverwalk Apartments complex, 208 E. Capitol Drive.

Developer Joe McCormick presented a slightly pared-down version of his previous plans. Initially, McCormick’s project entailed apartment buildings encompassing 89 units. To address such concerns as density, the plans have since been modified to 77 units.

After their most recent review, the board and commission backed the project in a big-picture sense, including its location.

“The nuts and bolts, in essence, still need to be worked out,” said Village President David Lamerand, who chairs the Plan Commission.

McCormick touted Riverwalk as a project that would breathe new life into Hartland’s downtown and enhance access to the Bark River.

“This can revitalize the downtown and bring people back down there,” McCormick said. “This will attract more people downtown, rather than have vacant storefronts. I would say (the current configuration) is underutilized.”

To accommodate McCormick’s planned development, an existing strip shopping center, Capitol Plaza, would be razed. In its place would be one of three buildings outlined in the Riverwalk apartment project, and the first floor would include retail use.

Capitol Plaza still has some tenants and does not suffer from sweeping vacancies. Members of the two appointed bodies briefly discussed what would happen to displaced retail and office operations within Capitol Plaza at Monday’s meeting.

Village Administrator David Cox said accommodations could be made to displaced tenants but acknowledged, “We haven’t made any determinations with them yet.”

According McCormick’s plans, all three buildings would be designed to compliment the architectural elements in the surrounding neighborhood.

Several nearby residents attended Monday’s meeting and asked questions about the potential increase in noise, lighting and traffic.

Members of the two appointed bodies did scrutinize a few details - including parking spaces.

McCormick’s submitted plans include 133 spaces, but village officials are anticipating the potential for 172 parking stalls during peak periods. Seventy-four of the spaces would be in an underground tunnel, and the balance would be surface parking.

While various specific details still need to be hashed over, village officials have largely backed the project - in part because it represents an opportunity to bring a sizable development into the heart of Hartland.

“Part of the concept here is to find ways to bring people to live downtown,” Cox said. “We’re looking at a dense, urban setting with a walkable community where folks can go.”

The Village Board is expected to take up the recommendation and hold a public hearing on the Riverwalk apartments at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m.  Dec. 22.