Growth Coming to U.S. 31 Corridor in Grand Traverse County

Activity starting in East Bay Township

They’re moving dirt along a heavily-traveled stretch of highway in Grand Traverse County – a sign that Spring is also ‘new-construction season.’

East Bay Hooters SiteUS Highway 31 in Grand Traverse County’s East Bay Township has seen a lot of businesses close in recent years – including a handful of restaurants, retail, and even a putt-putt course.

But at the site of the former, shuttered “Hooters” restaurant, crews are hard at work. East Bay Township Planner Claire Karner says, “I think it’s exciting to see something tangible. A building being taken down and another one opening up. With some commerce and business.”

It’s the most activity that this US 31 corridor has seen in a long time. Demolition of the old Hooters restaurant in East Bay township will make way for the “Green Mitt” car wash. Karner says, “They’ve got a little different look. It looks a little more like a bank building. So it’s got a façade that matches some of the other buildings in the corridor.”

East Bay Green MittA so-called “luxury car wash”, the Green Mitt aims to open in August or early September. Mark Wanner is the Owner of The Green Mitt. He says, “All of our soaps are plant-based, marine-grade, biodegradable soaps. We also use a lot less water than a traditional car wash. All of the water is reverse-osmosis filtered for the final rinse cycle.”

Wanner says the wash can accommodate “high-end sports cars and other low-clearance vehicles, as long as they have an inch and a half of clearance. Plus higher vehicles with a height under 7’2”.” The Green Mitt will also use conveyor belts for the cars instead of a groove and track where drivers try to align their tires to get pushed through a wash. The goal is to open by mid-August or early September.

Karner says, “From the Township’s prospective we’re promoting redevelopment of a lot of the vacant and underutilized properties along that corridor.  We’ve been working with existing businesses but also trying to promote redevelopment of some of those parcels.”

The new car wash at the old restaurant property is not the only development in the works along US 31. East Bay Township says a former miniature golf property is the site for two new projects. “There’s two extended-stay hotels that have been approved right next to Hopscotch (Taproom). Those have been slowly moving forward.  I think COVID slowed them down. But they’re moving forward with both of those. We also have a site plan that will be before the planning commission in April for a new hotel at the former Wendy’s site.”

The Green Mitt says more growth here – or at the neighboring Ruby Tuesday site – would be welcome additions. “It would be – absolutely would be. We’d love to see those sites develop all through there. It definitely would be a pro for us or any other business I think, having some new business in there.”

The township hopes to see this area grow – and thrive – and serve as a warm welcome for locals and visitors alike.  Karner says, “It’s the bulk of our commercial area right now in the township. But it also serves as a gateway and an entrance into the Grand Traverse region, the Traverse City area.”

“We’re looking to put up light pole banners, helping to establish an identity. We worked with Traverse City Tourism to develop a logo for the beach district – East Bay Township Beach District. And putting up banners along there. As well as planning for some public infrastructure investments, like safe crossings and connectivity.”

Categories: Business News