38 Businesses Share 3-60 Project Concerns, Public Mtg. July 16
(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 12, 2014)
The initial plans for construction of mixed use buildings in two city-owned parking lots has brought together 38 businesses who signed a letter expressing their concerns over the project in Downtown Ferndale, and the City is responding.
Developers of the 3-60 Project have been working with the city to design three buildings that include retail, residential, office and parking in the Withington and W. Troy parking lots. The lots could be sold to the developers, though there has been no public discussion of price or of what potential parking fees may be in the privately-owned structures.
Proponents of the plan are excited that the structures will bring in more businesses, jobs and residents to increase the tax base. It also adds hundreds of new parking spaces to Downtown Ferndale.
But the initial concepts that have been presented to City Council and at previous public meetings have raised concerns. The following letter has been circulating through the community, signed by the 38 businesses below it:
“July 9, 2014
Dear Mayor, Ferndale City Council and the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority,
Everyone agrees that currently, parking after 7 PM many evenings a week on west Nine Mile is difficult. Having more parking would be very beneficial to businesses open in the evenings. We appreciate and expect our elected officials and the DDA to address this.
In a recent article the 3-60 Project for downtown Ferndale was called a dream. But for most business owners on 9 Mile and residents in the adjacent neighborhoods, it is a terrifying nightmare.
We were presented by the developers and city officials a plan to close both parking lots on Troy and Withington simultaneously during construction of the 3-60 Project. This would reduce the time the city will be torn up, and of course it would save money for the construction companies. But, most business owners seriously doubt that our establishments can survive this financially. There would be little parking available to West Nine Mile patrons during the 18-24 month construction effort. Our businesses probably cannot stay alive during the shutdown of one of these lots with no other parking options for patrons.
Presently, no alternative parking and access plans have been developed for downtown customers during the 3-60 construction. A shuttle service was mentioned. Most of our customers won’t choose to wait for a shuttle when they can drive to another nearby city, park their vehicles and walk to their destination.
Before officials proceed further, in the interest of transparency, we request an accounting of all aspects of the budget and projected financial transactions related to this public/private development. We are not convinced that this project, for which we may sacrifice so much, will be feasible in the long term.
The downtown feeling of Ferndale is the dream many of us have invested in for decades. The 360 Project will shadow us during the day with its 6 and 8-10 story buildings. Some of us don’t share this vision. The parking problem should be addressed without disturbing the historical and welcoming appearance we have strived to maintain.
We trust and challenge our city officials and the DDA to give us other, better options. At the meeting one alternative suggested was to purchase and build a parking structure on the Save-A-Lot location by issuing bonds. Perhaps the answer could involve the Credit Union One structure on East Nine Mile, purchasing a portion of the Ferndale Food lot, or parking on the Woodward median. We respectfully request that the plan for Ferndale’s future not drive us away or into bankruptcy, but support the wonderful establishments and community which has thrived in the West Nine Mile corridor.
9 Lives Tattoo – Del Williams
Assaggi Bistro Josie Knapp and George Gize
Boston Tea Room – Heatherleigh Navarre
Capoeora Mandinga Detroit – Schelsea Jones
Celestial Touch Wellness Studios – A.J. Smith
China Ruby – Tina Co and Cuong Luu
Completely Bronzed Airbrush Tanning – Kelley Bojan
Crane Optical – Dr. Howard Crane
Dangerous Curves – Lashawna Smith
Designer Retail – Amy Keely
Detroit Lotus Sangha – Sean Rhaesa
DRIVEN – Kevin Woods
Ferndale Yoga – April Smith
Flip – Irene Petts
Found Sound – Raymond Hanosh
Great Clips – William Jue
International Hair – Jacqueline Thomas
Just 4 Us – Kevin Rogers
Library Books – Martha Sempliner
Lisa D’s Divine Treats – Lisa Davis
Maria’s Front Room – David Brown
Mays Bangkok Express – Kavee Kwm
Meagan Mitchell Salon – Meagan Mitchell
Mejishi Martial Arts – Jaye Spiro
MiChigo Pizza – William Hooker & Michael Miner
Mother Fletcher’s Vintage – Eric D. Fletcher
Natural Food Patch – Joel Fisher
Organic Food and Vitamin Center – Sadeq Ahmed
Painting with a Twist – Michelle Lewis
Pinwheel Bakery – Ann St. Peter
Professional Guitars Inc. – Patrick W. Doran
Reid Salon – Michael McArdle
Shine on Yoga – Linda Marchione
Twisted Shamrock – James Monaham
Candlewick Shoppe – Anthony Phoenix
Type 40 Sales – Anthony Phoenix
Brazen Cosmetics – Sandi Haney”
The letter is expected to be presented to Council at their next meeting, which is Monday, July 14. The 3-60 Project is scheduled to have a Town Hall meeting about the project at the Rust Belt Market at the corner of 9 Mile and Woodward at 5:30pm.
Mayor Dave Coulter saw the letter that has been circulating and said that those are the kinds of concerns that he and the City want to hear. “This first series of meetings is an information gathering period so those kinds of thoughts and concerns are exactly what we are asking people to share with us,” Coulter said. “Remember this project isn’t a done deal. We’re out soliciting concerns to see if they can be addressed.”
The City is in a 12-month “exploratory period” with the developer to work on potential plans for the lots, Coulter emphasized. He added that “parking is going to be an issue no matter what project we do, but we can work with the developer to see how we can work through it.
“Bottom line, we’re in the beginning of the process where we welcome and encourage people’s questions. All of this is healthy and will make the process better as we go along.” More meetings will take place to keep the public informed and involved, he said.
Economic Development Director Derek Delacourt also addressed the concerns raised in the letter, responding to a post on The Ferndale 115’s Facebook Page. “There has been no decision to close both lots (Troy & Withington) at the same time during construction. We regret if that was not made 100% clear during the public meetings. It is imperative at these initial stages that all options are considered,” he wrote.
“Staff and the development team would not be doing their job if they did not evaluate all possibilities and impacts of the proposed project, including the construction process.
“We are considering all options to mitigate any loss of parking during construction and will present those options and recommendations in as public a manner as possible–this is consistent with the direction of City Council and City Manager.
Without question, the City’s elected officials, administration, DDA and staff share the same concerns identified in the submitted letter.
“All of us involved in this project believe in the City of Ferndale, its character and its unique and individual feel. That’s why we live, work and choose to do business here. This is the first time I’ve addressed this or any project in Ferndale on Facebook. In this instance I believe it is appropriate. Please, if you have any questions or concerns related to the project, contact me directly.”
He also shared the links for more information, which are listed below.
For more pictures, plan and video of the council meeting, visit http://www.ferndalemi.gov/Government/Departments/City_Clerk/City_Council_Video_Meeting_Minutes and look for the July 9, 2014 meeting.
EDITORS NOTE: The project is called the 3-60 Project, not 360 Project.
38 Businesses Share 3-60 Project Concerns, Public Mtg. July 16