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Ferndale’s busiest parking lot to close for mixed-use development

The busiest parking lot in Ferndale is scheduled to close at the end of January for a 12- to 15-month construction project transforming it into a five-story, mixed-use development with nearly triple the parking spaces.

“It’s a lot more than just a parking structure,” said Barry Hicks, executive director of Ferndale’s Downtown Development Authority. “This is years in the making.”

Known as “The dot (or Development on Troy),” the estimated $28-million project on the southeast corner of Allen Road and West Troy Street is planned to include 400 parking spaces (the existing lot has 138) on four floors, including an underground level, and up to 15,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The city is working with the developer to also include two upper floors bringing up to 20,000 feet of office space to a building that reaches about 69 feet high.

The lot — in one of Oakland County’s most popular downtowns for dining and nightlife — closes Jan. 28, with a ground-breaking event scheduled for Feb. 2 and estimated completion by May 2020.

For people visiting Ferndale, construction is likely to create an inconvenience.

“It is the highest-trafficked lot in all of downtown,” Hicks said. “It’s almost immediate — as soon as a car leaves, another pulls in there; it’s pretty quick.”

Ferndale Assistant City Manager Joseph Gasioch said parking data shows it to be the busiest municipal lot during peak hours from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The city’s Downtown Parking Committee of residents, area businesses and property owners selected it as the No. 1 preferred site for this project, he said in an email.

The city is taking a three-pronged approach to make up for the temporary loss in parking. These include free micro-transit service from Chariot, which offers eight stops including several large parking lots between Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale; Lyft service to make it easier for downtown employees to park elsewhere, leaving more spaces for visitors, and a free valet service behind businesses on the north side of 9 Mile, near the Withington Parking lot. More details are on

“We’re doing everything we can to mitigate” parking issues, Hicks said. “Probably experiencing some disruption is completely unavoidable.”

But he also said he expects substantial long-term benefits, describing it as a “catalyst project,” one the city can point to as indicative of its standards for future developments.

“I remember when we started working on this, we were asking ourselves, ‘Should we just put up a parking deck?’ ” he said, adding that the City Council aimed to generate daytime traffic. “And the only way to do that is to try to get things such as office space or residential units, or things that people might do during the day.”

The parking-structure project’s first site-plan approval was in October 2017, but Gacioch said early offers were more focused on market-rate residential development that “didn’t align with the vision we had,” which included office and commercial retail space.

He said the city is working with the developer, Versa Wanda, to help ensure that the lease rates on the retail space are affordable for small businesses.

“We recognize that’s kind of what’s made us successful today,” he said. “You want to honor what got you here and not change a lot of that program if you can. … We’re very particular about the look and feel we want downtown.”

A 20,000-square-foot residential component, with about 16-18 units, is also possible through negotiations with the developer, Gacioch said.

The city is paying up to $20 million for the project, paid for mainly through parking revenue, permits and enforcement, he said.

Another component to the project is a pedestrian-friendly “streetscape overhaul” that Gacioch said will remove curbs and replace them with planters and benches. The segment of Troy Street in front of “The dot” will be closed during construction, but pedestrian access will remain available to the businesses along the street.

Once construction is completed, vehicle traffic will return. But the street is expected to be more friendly to pedestrians, bicycles and ride-sharing.

“We aren’t designing the streets just for cars anymore,” Gacioch said.


Posted By: Detroit Free Press on January 9, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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