Baker College Considering Move to Ferndale…

Baker College Considering Move to Ferndale, Council to Vote Monday…

Ferndale, MI- Ferndale City Council is considering a move that could bring a Baker College campus to Downtown Ferndale.

According to a memo on the proposed project in Monday’s City Council packet, “Baker College plans to consolidate and close four suburban campuses in August 2020, and open their flagship urban campus somewhere in Metro Detroit in time for classes to begin in Fall 2020. Baker approached Ferndale as their preferred location and requested an opportunity to collaboratively explore this possibility with our community.”

The vote on Monday evening would be for the city to enter into an Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement (ENRA) With Baker College.

The proposed project would consist of the following developer-funded activities:

~The acquisition of privately-owned property at the NW corner of E. Nine Mile and Bermuda and city-owned Parking Lot 13 (near Como’s) for the development of a college campus building housing classrooms, street-level activation, staff/administrative offices, and other ancillary college-related uses

~The development of a mixed-use parking deck with small-business oriented retail and potentially affordable residential, and approximately 300 to 400 parking spaces in one of the following three locations:

-Private properties to potentially be acquired on the south side of Vester, between Bermuda to the east and the alley to the west

-The privately-owned parking lot on the north side of Vester, adjacent to Valentine Distilling and potentially a portion of the City’s E. Breckinridge lot

-The city-owned parking lot between City Hall and the Ferndale Public Library

~Firm commitments on community benefits and public improvements as determined through a public engagement process

~Investments in temporary parking support and other services to prevent and mitigate, to the fullest extent possible, any reduction in current public parking capacity in the project area

If Council approves a Development Agreement and Community Benefits Agreement, Baker would be allowed to complete the Building plan review process and, if codes are met, receive construction permits.

It is expected that construction would begin in Summer 2019 and conclude in Summer 2020.  Staff is recommending approval, with the memo stating “We are confident in Baker’s commitment to good-faith negotiations and alignment with community input and vision/master plan.”

A lot has been vacant at Bermuda and E. 9 Mile since the former Ferndale First Baptist Church was demolished in 2014. This plan includes that property as well as others surrounding it.

Mayor Dave Coulter is excited about the potential.  “We’ve been approached by Baker College about the possibility of bringing a new campus to east downtown Ferndale,” he said.  “This could potentially bring exciting opportunities, including daytime students, faculty and staff to support downtown businesses and a convenient education option for residents. But please understand, no decisions have been made. We’ll discuss at Monday’s council meeting whether to enter into a period of vetting the idea, including designs and impact on parking. As with all projects in Ferndale we will include a robust and inclusive community engagement plan to make sure resident’s voices are heard and it’s the right fit for Ferndale’s character and needs.”

Ferndale is in the process of expanding Downtown Parking with the addition of a mixed use parking deck known as “the dot.”  The groundbreaking for the dot is scheduled for Feb. 2.  The Baker College plan would also involve adding parking.

“We’re very aware of the parking challenges, and in addition to providing their own parking for the school they would need to provide parking during construction. That’s one of the big issues we would discuss if we move forward on Monday,” Mayor Coulter said.

Baker College has announced it will be closing their Flint, Allen Park Auburn Hills and Clinton Township locations, though they will be offering classes through Aug. 2020.

For more on the potential agreement, visit the City of Ferndale website.

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