Big Dreams for Ferndale as 3-60 Project Concepts Take Shape
(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 11, 2014)
Ferndale City Council got their first glimpses at the potential developments that could happen in the City’s Withington and W. Troy St. parking lots. The 360-Project aims to bring new office, residential and parking structures to build up from the flat parking lots that are there now.
In March council approved an exclusivity agreement with the 360 Project, which is led by Livio Radio’s Jake Sigal. Though no purchase price had been agreed upon, the agreement establishes the intent of the city to sell the lots pending approval of the plans, which are being made with input from the city. The agreement also requires 360 to make reports to Council and the public regularly through the process.
Monday’s presentation was just an initial concept that has not been reviewed by the planning commission yet, but their intent was to give a starting point illustration of what they envision for the properties.
“I think this is an excellent update mostly because it lets us dream a little bit,” said Councilperson Dan Marin. “I’m looking forward to the feedback from the public forums and the planning commission and see what crafts and grows out of that. But this kind of entices the interest a little more and hopefully will draw more people out so they can start to conceptualize a little bit what this could mean…to them personally and to the community.”
The starting-point dream calls for three buildings 1-60, 2-60, and 3-60.
One-60 could have two 30,000 square foot floor plates as well as parking and retail stores along Allen. Dennis Griffin, a consultant to the 360 Project, said that the layout “lets us cast a broad net for certain tech companies of a decent scale.” The space could be leased to one company, or divided into 30,000 or 15,000 sq. foot plans. The current program for the Troy Lot includes a parking deck with office above. Approximately 275 parking spaces are contained within a parking deck comprised of at grade parking and 2 supported levels.
Two-60 in the Withington Lot could include approximately 600 parking spaces within a parking deck with grade parking and 3 supported levels. Incorporated above the parking near the center of the site is a 3-story commercial office building that could have three 20,000 square foot plates. This could be a “really diverse building with retail and community space, what we call more traditional office users would be attracted to that,” Griffin said. Incorporated at the east end of the parking use is a 6-story commercial office building currently called Three-60.
Then at the West end of the Withington lot there could be an apartment building. “The West End Lofts was a very logical transition given the Withington Housing Community that’s down there now.” Zoning ordinances will determine how tall the lofts could be, but it will likely be comparable in size to the existing apartments across the street.
“This is a really big development, but we don’t want it to feel that way, that’s why we broke up the office space and kept Troy lower,” said one of the architects for the project.
The developers presented a slideshow of renderings, layouts, and other details which are available on the City’s website by viewing the June 9, 2014 agenda packet or watching the video, at http://www.ferndalemi.gov/Government/Departments/City_Clerk/City_Council_Video_Meeting_Minutes.
Public Meetings and Communications
Downtown Development Authority Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius announced initial meetings for June 30. The first is at 9am at Level One Bank and the second is at The Rust Belt Market at 6pm. The meetings are intended for the DDA to communicate to businesses impacted by the project, but the public is also able to attend. Sheppard-Decius said they are planning resident meetings but do not yet have the dates set.
Councilperson Melanie Piana inquired as to why they hadn’t received a written outreach plan before the info meetings were set up, and was assured that a plan would be forthcoming. Mayor Dave Coulter echoed Piana’s sentiments that communication and public input should be a priority. “These other meetings are important for feedback we are going to get. This isn’t a decision we’re going to make here tonight at this table,” he said.
In addition to informing business owners about scheduling, Martin suggested helping businesses prepare for the construction, which could begin as early as next year. “At the National Main Street conference, I attended a session that was particularly and effectively done for the city of Rochester about how to survive a major construction effort. And one of their suggestions that I think was quite powerful, was they started almost two years out to talk about how to survive a major construction, including building your mailing list, communicating ahead of time, and for businesses to get their customers alternative parking and access plans. I would really love to see that kind of education as part of that outreach meetings,” he said. “How do you survive through that process? And how do you get there when parking may very well be restricted? I think it’s a very functional and important role the DDA has.”
City leaders are debating whether it would be better to have a stand-alone website for construction updates, or if incorporating it into the existing www.ferndalemoves.com site would be more appropriate. Either way though, updates will be available to the public. Councilperson Greg Pawlica also suggested that the meetings be announced on the City’s cable channel.
The next step is for the developers to take the ideas and refine them into specific specifications to bring before the Planning Commission and the public.
For better pictures, plan and video of the council meeting, visit http://www.ferndalemi.gov/Government/Departments/City_Clerk/City_Council_Video_Meeting_Minutes.
EDITORS NOTE: The project is called the 3-60 Project, not 360 Project.
Big Dreams for Ferndale as 3-60 Project Concepts Take Shape