Plans on hold for Japanese steakhouse building in Farmington

Owners of The Krazy Krab, formerly Samurai Sushi, in downtown Farmington want to expand, but have scaled back plans for a second building.

In 2018, city officials approved Xie Zheng LLC’s vision for a 4-story building with a main floor Japanese steakhouse and apartments above. The building would have connected with The Krazy Krab via a walkway that would also provide room for outdoor seating.

On Monday, planning commissioners reviewed revised plans to build a one-story addition onto the existing structure, with the adjacent site left as a green space. The owner would install stormwater management, additional parking, sidewalks, a rear wall included with the original plans, and other elements.

Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen told commissioners that a 2019 plan revision reduced the size of the second building to two stories. Also during that year, the company decided to close Samurai Sushi and rebrand the restaurant.

The Krazy Krab opened this year, less than two months before Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” order shut down dining rooms. While restaurants have re-opened, Christiansen said, they’re now at 50 percent capacity to maintain social distancing – and that’s what drove the owner’s plan for the 1,000-square-foot expansion and outdoor seating.

The addition will reduce the size of the remaining lot, architect ​Salvatore D’Aleo of D’Anna Associates confirmed.

“If and when the second phase happens, in terms of design, it would essentially be a truncated version of what was proposed initially,” he said.

Commissioner Steve Majoros asked whether there would be enough room for a Phase 2 business.

“What I don’t think what we want to do is approve a thousand square feet, and when it’s brought back later, to be told there’s not enough space for a restaurant, we want to redevelop it as something else,” he said. “Are we going to approve something short-term that later on we’ll regret?”

D’Aleo said the remaining 2,500-3,000 square feet is “not bad, given that the existing building is 4,000 and change… It’s a viable building pad, based on my opinion.”

Christiansen asked whether the applicant would consider putting a second story onto the addition to match the existing building. D’Aleo said that hadn’t been considered, but the addition could be built to support a future second story.

Commissioner Geof Perrot urged the applicant to “really put thought into the aesthetics, because the property is a continuation of downtown Farmington.”

“Incremental improvement is better than nothing at all,” he said. “It’s nice to see progress, especially nowadays.”

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Main Street Design Committee will review the proposal, which then comes back to the Planning Commission for action.

You can view plans and supporting materials on the city’s website, where meeting video will also be posted.

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