The Fenton City Planning Commission is reviewing a proposal to convert the old granary and former Red Fox Outfitters building into a banquet facility.
At its October 2020 meeting, city planners recommended that the city not approve a special land use permit, mostly due parking concerns. The planning commission tabled his application until he submits detailed information and commitments regarding alternate parking arrangements, said Planning Consultant Carmine Avantini of CIB Planning, Inc.
After sitting empty for years, Red Fox Outfitters opened in November 2015 after it was rehabilitated for $1,950,000.
SkyPoint Ventures, the real estate/capital development arm of Phil Hagerman and Jocelyn Hagerman invested in rehabilitating the historical granary, which was built in 1856.
Red Fox Outfitters was the creation of Jesse Anderson and Nick Brown. The store closed in March 2020. Anderson and Brown previously said it was not profitable enough to keep it open.
The most impressive view of Red Fox Outfitters is when driving into Fenton from the east, as the giant glass window spanning two stories immediately comes into view. Also noticeable was the return of the building to its original color of red, taken from photographs of the building in its earliest years.
According to the planning commission, there is an 11-space parking lot to the east of the building and a 49-space city-owned parking lot with a mini-park area immediately east of that.
The applicant, Luc Birchmeier of Fenton, indicated he would like to turn the building into a wedding venue ballroom/event center. The facility could be used for corporate parties, anniversaries, business meetings, bridal showers and more. Fenton City does not have a facility similar to this space.
In his application, Birchmeier said his proposal would benefit the city by bringing in people who would be staying at area hotels, shopping and visiting restaurants. Parking is a concern, however, he said a shuttle service would help alleviate the problem.
Phil Hagerman is the current owner of the building. According to meeting minutes, he told the planning commission that he has had a lot of interest in rentals on the property and he has had offers to buy but thought it wasn’t quite the right fit. He said he personally thinks the best use for this building is a facility that Birchmeier is attempting to do. He added that the ability to bring people to Fenton from 50 miles away, who may be spending the night in hotels, would make Fenton a destination.
Hagerman acknowledged that downtown parking in Fenton is a challenge. There are parking spaces in the city, but a short walk could be necessary.
Commissioner Scott Grossmeyer was not opposed to walking a short distance but he was concerned with what impact a venue like this would have on nearby neighborhoods. He also has concerns of noise and traffic.
Hagerman told the planning commission he would be willing to have a parking survey of what municipal and open lots are available, along with the city parking on the streets.
The proposal was tabled for further study and reviews of the available parking in the downtown area.