Apartment Building Design for “dot” in Ferndale Under Discussion

Apartment Building Design for “dot” in Ferndale Under Discussion

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 27, 2020)

Ferndale, MI – While Ferndale’s mixed use parking deck, known as “the dot” looks pretty decked out for the holidays, there’s still more to be done at this mixed use development site.

There is space left at the western end of the building where an abutting apartment building will go.

Details of the apartments are being figured out by the architects, the developers, and the Ferndale Planning Commission, so changes may still be made. But the Dec. 16, 2020 Planning Commission provided some initial ideas and discussion.

Versa Wanda, LLC has partnered with the city on the project, with developer Greg Erne and architect Jason Kreiger bringing forward initial ideas solely to get feedback from the commission and the public.

The idea is to have 11 units contained on four stories, plus a partial basement with 1-2 utility rooms.

The apartments would be 1-2 bedroom with sizes between 704 sf and 1,333 sf. The design offered three ground floor walk in units, three units on the second floor with a common hallway, and five townhouse units that take up the third and fourth floors. Residential parking would be in the parking deck, though as presented the project would require a waiver as it would fall 7 spaces short of the requirements.

Kreiger, of Kreiger Klatt Architects, described the building as “a respectful design that creates a buffer as you enter the downtown.”

It features brick, cast stone, and metal panels as well as “Juliette balconies and expansive vision glass to provide both attractive design elements but also excellent natural light into the units,” according to the Planning Commission documents.

Another notable feature is the corner entrance with an awning, seating, and a corner of open area where people can gather that’s near the currently decorated evergreen on the corner of W. Troy and Allen.

“We wanted to do something special because this is a great spot,” Kreiger said of the design and features.  “This is a long term goal for us.”

As part of the agreement with the City, 50% of the apartments are required to be affordable housing with apartments available that meet a variety of income levels.  However, Erne and Keriger are aiming for 100% if they  can make the math work to do so.

Ferndale Economic Director Jordan Twardy explained that affordable housing rates are based on the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development calculation, which is based on the area median income.  In the Ferndale area this is $62,000.  Rates in the building will be priced to attract people who make 80%, 60%, 50%, and possibly 30% of the median income.

A resident questioned how landlords can be held accountable to the affordable housing provisions.  Twardy said that the City does rental inspections and permitting.  If a developer fails to keep rent levels in line with the agreement, they run the risk of loosing their license.  They also could face having to return or miss out on incentives.

Several residents had questions and concerns, including neighbors who are unhappy with the lights in the parking deck portion of the project, those concerned with privacy, and those who worry that taller buildings are changing the community aesthetic.

Others worried about having more construction and noise.  Kreiger responded that creating the foundation for a parking deck was much more intensive a process than an apartment building, so the loud noises and ground shaking that residents experienced with the parking deck portion would not be occurring.

Through the development agreement, The City of Ferndale will continue to own the parking deck, while Versa Wanda owns the retail, apartment, and future office portions.

The next step is for the developer to consider feedback from the discussion and to submit a formal site plan, which will go before the Planning Commission for review, in late January at the earliest.  “We’re not in a hurry,” Erne said.  “We will take our time and get though this together.”

More info: City of Ferndale Planning Commission agenda

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