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Warren plans $170M mixed-use project as first step toward a downtown

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has long talked about creating a walkable downtown for the city.

This week, he unveiled plans for a $170 million mixed-use development project that he says is the first step toward realizing that dream.

The proposed Warren Town Center would be built through a public-private partnership that will include the city, General Motors and Flaherty & Collins Properties, which Fouts said has been selected as the master developer.

As proposed, the project will be built on the site of the old city hall, directly in front of the current city hall and across from the GM Global Tech Center, Fouts said in a news release.

The project plans call for 500 “market rate” apartments, a 200-room boutique hotel, more than 20,000 square feet of retail and dining and space for a 30,000-square-foot, full-service grocery, according to the news release. Fouts said the city hopes to attract Whole Foods or Papa Joe’s to the grocery space.

“This is an important first step in achieving the city’s goal of creating a downtown that will draw visitors and new high-end businesses to our city,” Fouts said. “The downtown concept has been a vision for city leaders since the 1960s.”

Brian Prince, vice president of development and lead project developer for Flaherty & Collins, said the proposed project “will invigorate the downtown core of Warren.”

“This site is a great location and will be a real draw and economic stimulator for the area,” Price said in the news release. “The goal of this development is to create a Town Center that offers a high-end housing option that currently does not exist in Warren.”

The plans call for a pedestrian bridge running across Van Dyke from the hotel to the Tech Center, which is expected to expand to 25,000 employees in the next few years, according to Fouts.

Fouts told the Free Press that GM would be helping with the walkway cost, which he estimated between $2 million and $4 million. He said the enclosed walkway would be similar to the one spanning Big Beaver Road at the Somerset Mall in Troy, only shorter.  Fouts said GM has also committed to renting “so many thousands of rooms” per year at the hotel, although he did not provide a specific numbers.

The mayor said the city’s financial commitment to the project was minimal and no tax dollars would be used. The developer would be responsible for the majority of the $170 million price tag, Fouts said, with the city providing the land, infrastructure upgrades, including sewer and water, and tax abatements. He said the city would also seek grants through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to help finance the project.

The city and Flaherty & Collins will negotiate a development agreement over the coming months, and pending City Council approval, plan to break ground on the project before the end of 2019 or in early 2020, Fouts said. The project would take one to two years to complete, he said.

Fouts has long talked about building a walkable downtown in Warren. He floated the idea again last spring during his annual state of the city address when he announced the city was looking at 22 proposals for what then was a proposed $125-million development around city hall.

“I am very excited about  this and I think it is going to change the face of Warren,’’ Fouts told the Free Press Thursday, saying it will become a destination like Detroit, Royal Oak and Rochester.


Posted By: Detroit Free Press on December 27, 2018.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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