(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 15, 2017)
Ferndale, MI – Ferndale residents and businesses will now see two plans unfolding for the parking deck downtown.
The City had been considering a mixed use project that would serve to bring in tax and rental revenue, as well as new office workers, residents and shoppers along with adding parking. But after business owners and neighbors filled council chambers Monday requesting that the city consider building just a simple deck, council agreed to spend the extra time and money to have two sets of plans researched – one with mixed use and one with just a deck.
“We’re not trying to do this in an adversarial way,” said Mayor Dave Coulter. “We’ll explore the option of precast single uses too. When we come back to you in April or May the pictures can tell a thousand words. To me it’s worth it to come back with these options so we can have a better sense of is this what we want….It’s taken us 20 years, if it takes a couple extra months I’m okay with that.”
The deck is slated to be raised in the West Troy Parking lot at the corner of W. 9 Mile and Allen. As a mixed-use deck, it would take the parking capacity from 138 spots to 390.
The swell of business concern came after a letter was distributed and signed by 45 businesses opposing the mixed use design. The letter inaccurately stated that a simple deck could be done in six months, and mixed use would take 1.5-2 years. In reality a single use would take 9-12 months and a mixed use would take 12-15.
The letter also called for a two-three story deck instead of the four-story deck that is proposed. “We respectfully request that the plan for Ferndale’s future, solve our parking problem, refrain from creating additional demands for parking, not overshadow the historic character of our community and not threaten current businesses,” the letter stated.
SINGLE USE VS. MIXED USE
Assistant City Manager Joe Gacioch gave an update on the parking deck project at Monday’s council meeting, including information about the differences between precast single use structures vs. poured in place mixed use.
“Pre-cast” single use decks have pre-stressed concrete that is formed offsite and delivered during construction. The timeline is 9-12 months. It has been shorter in other communities, but because of the sandy soil in Ferndale, a deep foundation is necessary. There are fewer upfront costs but it is more expensive over the life of the deck because of maintenance costs, mainly from all of the joints. It also is less durable and prohibitive for future mixed use.
The “cast in place” mixed use deck would be concrete poured into place onsite. The timeline is 12-15 months, which includes streetscape and alley work. There are more upfront costs, but less maintenance costs. It has a more open layout because there are fewer joints and it can accommodate mixed use. In this scenario, parking would be available at the 11 month mark while remaining aesthetic work is completed.
Another question by residents and business owners is if developing mixed use would also increase demand. Gacioch presented the data based on expected occupancy to show that the spaces being added would be sufficient, with demand growing to 85% capacity if all mixed use features are utilized. A pre-cast single use structure could not be built upwards once constructed to accommodate demand should it arise in the future, but a cast-in-place structure could be.
If a mixed-use design is selected, the cost would be about $20 million.
This breaks down to about:
9.5-12 million for the deck
1.5-2 million for street level retail space
2-2.5 million for the transfer pad that would allow for a future addition,
and 1.5-2 million for event plaza features along W. Troy.
Gacioch said that the parking fund currently brings over $1 million in revenue each year and has a balance of $3.25 million.
If mixed use is selected, the City would work with an outside company to develop and manage the potential commercial areas of the property. “The City does not intend to be a landlord, I want to be clear about that,” he said. He added that the City would still be required to follow all rules that any other developer would, including going through the Planning Commission process and keeping property up to code.
Though there has been initial public engagement, the city plans on doing more through the next phase of “design and development.” Concepts will be drawn up for a public design input session in late April. If the process stays the course there will be public hearings at the Planning Commission on May 17 and June 21.
The City and the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) continue to work out alternatives to parking issues during construction. The entities have committed $200,000 to providing parking solutions for the Downtown businesses. Thus far suggestions have included a shuttle, valet, or Uber services.
Sue Ferrari of Mejishi Martial Arts, who led the effort with the letter, said she is planning a citizens petition to stop the project.
To learn more about the project visit: http://www.ferndaleparking.com.