Industrial Vacancy Down to 10%

Industrial Vacancy Down to 10%

(C. Proxmire, Oct. 30, 2012)

Tucked away behind the main streets’ commercial areas and the quaint residential neighborhoods are sections of Ferndale where warehouses and factories supply much needed jobs and tax revenue.  Here industry leaders like Gage Products, Coventry Creations (candles), Search Optics, Garden Fresh Salsa, Ferndale Laboratory, Midwest Analytical, B-Nektar Mead and others put Ferndale on the map in their own industries, while unique startup projects like i3 Detroit and the Detroit Bus Company continue to grow with community support.

And thanks to the City’s investment in Economic Development, Ferndale’s industrial districts are now 90% full.  Mayor Dave Coulter, who created a Mayor’s Business Council to focus on issues like industrial vacancy, announced the low rate at the recent Ferndale Seniors State of the City Address.

In a followup interview, Coulter explained the importance of focusing on those areas.  “The industrial section of the city is about 15% of our land area but it brings in nearly a third of our tax revenue, so having a healthy industrial sector is good for our finances and helps reduce costs for everybody else,” Coulter said.  “Just as important, these companies are major job producers and help put our residents to work.  Our downtown gets most of the attention and of course we’re proud of it, but just one new major commercial business could hire as many employees as everyone working downtown.  A healthy city has a thriving retail sector and a thriving commercial and industrial sector.

“I started the Mayor’s Business Council to bring the leaders of our large commercial and industrial companies together to tell us what they need to be more successful, and to help us develop a plan to attract and grow these businesses.  We have very smart CEO’s and business leaders working in Ferndale, and they know better than I do what it takes to takes to grow a business.  The Mayor’s Business Council gives them a place to share their expertise, and we’re already seeing some exciting new ideas being generated.”

A national property tracking company called CoStar provides data that city leaders use to figure out where their efforts need to be.  Industrial vacancy was higher between late 2009 and early 2011, it ranging between 19% – 23%.

Director of Development Derek Delacourt explained some of the strategic things Ferndale did to get this number down. “I think there are several factors that have an impact.  Ferndale has dedicated itself to being a business friendly community, to partnering and being responsive to both existing businesses and those looking to locate in the Community,” Delacourt said.

He explained that the City partnered with Oakland County to study over 200 properties and identify known environmental issues and impediments to redevelopment of those properties.  “If someone if looking to develop a property often times it is not the actual environmental issues with a property but a fear of the unknown.  If we can assist in reducing that fear it makes those properties even more attractive,” he said.

The City has also established a flexible a zoning ordinance and continues to stream line its review process, making it faster and easier for a business to open.  Another factor was just increasing education in general, including letting potential investors know about financing options and other potential incentives.  The Mayor’s Business Council is also a part of the education and development process.

The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce also hosts a Commercial Property Showcase that features both retail and industrial properties and education about utilizing them.

Some of the exciting new industrial developments include:

  • *Capital Tire recently renovated 90,000 square feet of vacant functionally obsolete building/property for its regional headquarters.
  • *A company that manufactures aftermarket front end parts bought and renovated the former Goodwill Printing Facility, approximately 90,000 square feet of vacant space.
  • *Brass Aluminum Forging recently renovated and expanded 40,000 square feet of previously vacant space.
  • *Diversified Metal bought and renovated a new facility on Hilton that was formerly vacant, I believe that was 30k square feet.
  • *Madison Heights Glass bought the former Erie Industries building and is planning to expand and grow

“Those are some of the bigger (by square footage) projects, but any time we can reduce the amount and number of functionally obsolete, vacant, or blighted properties it is a positive for the community,” Delacourt said.

“We don’t like any vacant properties.  Obviously there are some, because of their size, that present more challenges than others but those are the ones where we also have the most opportunity.  The former Hayes Lemmerz property on Eight Mile has enormous potential, the former Maverick site on Wanda is another.  The City really is focused on all of our properties and opportunities not just one or two sites.”

Coulter said that the City will continue to focus on business development, which he expects there to be even more of.  “I think Ferndale is a great place to open a business because we have a great location, we have a talented and educated workforce and now we have a City Hall that’s committed to their success.  It’s just one of the ways Ferndale will continue to be a successful city in the future.”

 CoStar has the ability to search for property listings.  Click here for Ferndale.

For more information about starting a business in Ferndale, contact Director of Development Derek Delacourt at ddelacourt@ferndale-mi.com.

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