Grand Traverse Commons

Bldg-50-webSite History

Owned and operated by the State of Michigan to treat individuals with mental illness and opened in 1885, the State Hospital housed 50,000 patients, hired 20,000 employees, and accepted 250,000 visitors before its closure. The sprawling complex spans 2 municipalities (Traverse City and Garfield Township) includes over 30 structures, one of which is roughly a quarter-mile-long with 4 stories, was literally a self-contained community that provided its own food through extensive agricultural acreage and power through on-site coal burning power plants. In 1988, for all effective purposes the State of Michigan abandoned Traverse City State Psychiatric Hospital. The closing of the State Hospital not only left the community without its historically largest employer, it also left the community with rapidly deteriorating historic structures with significant levels lead and asbestos and contaminated land through variety of historic uses. The resulting redevelopment effort is the largest historic redevelopment effort in the United States. Moreover, the redevelopment effort is also the largest mixed used Brownfield project in the State of Michigan, and is thought to be the largest effort underway in the Midwest.


Redevelopment planning and implementation was a long and complex process over a number of years. Eventually the core area of historic buildings was transferred to the Minervini Group, LLC, which are private developers taking the lead in redeveloping these truly historic structures. Land to the east of the historic core area of buildings is held as park land by Traverse City, the area to the west is held as park land by Garfield Township, and the area to the south is jointly held park land owned by Traverse City and Garfield Township known as Historic Barns Park. Historic Barns Park has exciting redevelopment plans to become a wonderful community asset with a "green agri-tourism twist." View a photo collage of the project (JPG).

Ongoing Progress

While approximately 30% of the redevelopment is complete, nearly 500,000 square feet of the buildings remain to be redeveloped. Considerable Lead based paint (LBP) and asbestos containing material (ACM) is pervasive throughout the building that remain to be redeveloped. To date, there are 62 market rate condos, 68 Low Income Housing Tax Credit financed rental residential units, over a dozen retail stores, nine restaurants, and almost 40 professional offices. The next major phase of redevelopment involves the creation of 91 units of senior housing, which would complete Building 50 - the largest building at the former hospital. In May of 2011, the Minervini Group, City of Traverse City, Garfield Township, and Grand Traverse County were awarded the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation for this project.