Restaurateurs lose bid to turn old Detroit fire station into restaurant

Candice Williams
The Detroit News
Tim McKay, 70, a local resident of Corktown stands with a petition in front of the fire station.

Detroit — A group of residents opposed to a plan to turn a former fire station in their Corktown neighborhood into a restaurant got their wish Tuesday when the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals denied the property owner’s request.

In a 4-to-2 vote, the Board of Zoning Appeals denied a request from the owners of 1201 Bagley to change the 7,816-square-foot building from non-conforming office space to non-conforming restaurant with a Class C liquor license. The request also included a total of four residential units on the second and third floors. 

“It’s going to be more detrimental to the neighborhood than the previous non-conforming use as an office,” board member Robert Weed said. “I think the neighbors, the people who live there who bought it as a residential place have the right to expect it to continue to be a residential place.”

It was up to the board to determine if, according to the city zoning ordinance, the request would “be less injurious to the surrounding area than the previous nonconforming use." 

The former fire station closed in 1982, and in the mid-1980s, it became a law office.

Brian Ellison of Intersection Consulting Group, which represents the building’s owner, Byzantine Holdings LLC, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Ellison previously said that he would attempt to request an adjournment to allow for more time to speak with the community, however, the Board of Zoning Appeals denied that request Tuesday.

Nearby residents expressed to the board their concerns regarding the potential parking issues, noise and fumes from a restaurant.

Tim McKay said he and his neighbors were pleased with the board's decision. He suggests that the building become completely residential.

"The first floor could be parking for the units on the second and third floor," he said. "That makes sense. And charge enough to do that."

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN