(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 9, 2015)
Ferndale City Council declined to extend talks with Jake Sigal and the development team of the 3-60 Project. The project would have added structures for retail, parking, high tech offices and residential to the existing Withington Parking Lot and West Troy Parking Lot.
Under an exclusivity agreement Sigal and his team spent a year working with the Development Department researching the property, creating renderings, holding public meetings, revising ideas and trying to negotiate a public-private partnership that would fit in with the City’s Master Plan.
In the end, Council decided not to extend the agreement. No vote was necessary but in discussion each elected official expressed their reasons for declining to continue.
“Privately I did have a lot of issues in the past year,” said Councilperson Greg Pawlica. “It has not met my expectations… We have the opportunity to take what we’ve learned and improve it.”
“We knew from the beginning this was an ambitious project,” Coulter said. “It’s critical that we put something that has buy in across the community.”
Councilperson Mike Lennon said “I am not in favor of this,” and “I don’t want to commit to another year.”
Councilperson Melanie Piana said that she heard from residents who were both for and against the development. “But for me, I felt like the development group put a best foot forward, but I feel like we need to take a step backward and find a developer who can scale and not be all or nothing.”
Piana said that much was learned in going through the development process, and that she wants to express “What happens next?” She said that the community would still need to address parking issues, and that communications issues with the Downtown Development Authority needed to be addressed. “We need to have honest conversations with the DDA about how to best achieve goals…. I have to express some disappointment with the DDA. We received a statement on the project, but it’s a non-position, given that many businesses expressed support.”
She stated that the city’s zoning and policies are already in place to support mixed use development, and emphasized the need for continuing to move forward with development ideas. No specific plans were brought up at the meeting.
Coulter summed up the rejection by saying “not every project works out.”
For previous stories on the 3-60 Project see: