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Developer outlines $20m, 5-story Utica Junction mixed-use development in Roseville

Posted By: Macomb Daily on November 16, 2022.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.


A home builder Tuesday night unveiled plans for a $20 million, mixed-use development along Utica Road to be the showcase piece of downtown Roseville.

Waref Hawasli, head of Grosse Pointe Farms-based Hawasli Homes presented details for Utica Junction, a five-story building to be constructed on the east side of Utica Road, just northwest of Gratiot Avenue, at a Roseville City Council special meeting.

He envisions the 81,000-square-foot building as having the first floor dedicated to retail and the remaining levels containing 68 apartments, with parking along the rear and at least two electric vehicle charging stations, with the possibility of more as EVs gain in usage.

“We would love to see this come to life,” Hawasli told council members.

After the meeting, Mayor Robert Taylor said he felt the building would be a “great addition” to Roseville as the city works to develop a downtown area.

“That is huge for Roseville,” the mayor said of the investment, which is expected to be above $20 million.

According to Hawalsi, Utica Junction would include an even mix of 600-square-foot, one bedroom apartments and 750-square-foot, two bedroom units. It would also have outdoor planters, bench seats, bicycle racks, and tables and chairs.

For the first-floor retail space, Hawalsi said he hopes to attract a grab-and-go deli, a UPS store, a studio and more.

Steve Deak of Deak Planning + Design said the building is designed to accommodate walkability. He said it would be an urban infill development on a narrow parcel of land, rather than a sprawling complex like others that have been built in the past in Macomb’s suburbs.

“It creates a spot where people are going up and down Utica Road can flow freely and user tenants of the building have this secondary public area that has a nice feel to it,” Deak said.

There are also several municipal parking lots within walking distance. The city has also purchased a dental office just north of the Deeper Life Ministries, which used to house the Roseville Theater, according to Taylor.

“I think it’s going to be a local hangout spot for the city of Roseville,” he said. “We’re looking to see some good retail coming into the community. I know the businesses over there are welcoming them with open arms.”

The development is expected to spur further investment into Roseville, officials said.

Local artist Edward Stross, owner of the Gonzo Art Studio on Utica at Gratiot, said he has no opposition to the development since no historic sites are being demolished.

“My only issue is the name Utica Junction,” he said. “It feels like you are distorting or taking away our heritage by calling it Utica Junction.”

Hawasli said the name Utica Junction was only used as a working title. He might even hold a naming contest to pick a title.

Recognizing the national and local trends of returning to downtown environments, Roseville a few years back advertised for a request for proposals to offer the property in exchange for a quality development.

Hawalsi’s firm was selected. The city then set out to complete more than $1 million of streetscape improvements to Utica Road, including reducing four lanes of traffic to two.

A study by some Michigan Economic Development Corporation fellows found the Utica Junction area has “extremely strong” traffic counts, roadside visibility from Gratiot Avenue, and presented an opportunity to redesign Utica Road. It also held a competitive advantage in that not many downtowns like Utica Road exist in Macomb County.

There are 4005,000 potential diners and shoppers within an eight mile radius, according to the MEDC fellows study.  The area currently is a hodgepodge of used car lots, collision shops and a handful of eateries.  The proposal goes before the city’s Planning Commission Nov. 21.  According to Hawalsi, if the site plan is approved and everything goes as planned, he expects to begin construction near the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.

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