Great Lakes Eye Care photo Tribune

Great Lakes Eye Care plans to renovate and build an addition onto the building at 570 Broadway Ave. formerly occupied by AJ's Surf and Chirp restaurant.

Within the next several months, construction will begin to convert a former restaurant into new quarters for a professional eye care practice.

Great Lakes Eye Care plans to renovate the former AJ's Surf N Chirp into a new medical facility at 570 Broadway Ave. South Haven Planning Commission approved the company's site plan, Thursday. Benton Harbor-based Tera Architects, which is overseeing the project, expects the renovation and expansion will cost an estimated $520,400.

Great Lakes Eye Care proposes to renovate the existing 1,665-square-foot building and construct a new 885-square-foot addition to the north side of the structure to accommodate a 260-square-foot waiting room and seven exam rooms.

"We're hoping by June to be in there,"said Jim Duryee, administrator Great Lakes Eye Care, which is based in St. Joseph and has two other offices in Niles and Mishawaka.

Great Lakes Eye Care had been leasing space for its medical practice at 412 Phoenix St., in downtown South Haven, for the past 13 years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the office was temporarily closed and its patients seen at the St. Joseph office. When the owners of the downtown building announced they had planned to sell the building, Great Lakes Eye Care began looking for new quarters.

"We were asked to vacate and decided we'd like to move and make a new home in South Haven," Duryee said.

Planners were pleased Great Lakes Eye Care chose the building at 570 Broadway Ave. for a new office and the plans they have to renovate and add on to the existing structure.

Located at the corner of Broadway and Green Street, the building had been vacant for several years.

"That corner is going to look a whole lot better," planner Michael Neiss remarked.

Planners approved the site plan unanimously with the following conditions: the developer work with city staff to provide more details about parking lot aisle dimensions and traffic patterns; install additional screening along the remainder of the west property line; and provide any additional permits deemed necessary for the completion of the project from any local, state or federal authority.