GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A developer says a planned P.F. Chang's chain Chinese restaurant along East Beltline Avenue NE is dead, after he failed to win city permits Monday for the project.
City planners argue that before he gets the permits, developer Steve Benner needs to pay about $125,000 for flooding fixes at the site, at the edge of the city of Grand Rapids, northeast of East Beltine and Knapp Street NE. Benner envisions an outdoor "lifestyle center" for the site, with mall stores set up along streets inside the development. A D&W Fresh Market grocery store already sits along the southern edge of the development, dubbed the Village at Knapp's Crossing.
P.F. Chang's has begun terminating its agreement to open a restaurant at the site, a lawyer for Benner told the city's planning commission. And without permits, "they'll be gone." The restaurant was key to attracting other tenants -- and therefore, more jobs -- to the center, Benner said.
Planners already had set payments as a condition for permits last year after flooding issues surfaced. And taxpayers have already paid for the changes, the Kent County drain commissioner said, after the developer failed to make the fixes himself.
But, Benner said, the city is not going about getting the money back in the proper way, arguing that the county drain commissioner could use the drain code to get the money without delaying the development.
"I don't have $130,000 to pay. My bank just said they don't have $130,000 to pay. And that's extortion," Benner told reporters after the city's planning commission made its decision Monday.
The developer said there are others who should be paying the costs, as well.
Drain Commissioner Bill Byl said Benner's sites -- not those owned by other entities -- caused the problem "and that's what we have been trying to say to him."
"The thing that really bothers me is, Mr. Benner was given very clear instructions 10 months ago," Byl told 24 Hour News 8. "It was not that hard to figure out. I would have been amenable any time in the last 10 months to sitting down and trying to figure out what way we could make this work."
Benner told reporters he now plans legal action in the case, though he declined to say what the target of his litigation would be.
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