Planning Commission Holds PUD Discussion on Troy Street Parking Structure

FERNDALE — The Aug. 2 Ferndale Planning Commission meeting was centered around a long discussion involving the installation of a mixed-use parking garage.

The mixed-use structure, called “The Development on Troy” or “The Dot,” has been in the works for more than a year. The site would be located at the West Troy Street and Allen Road parking lot.

The meeting was a preliminary planned unit development discussion, in which architect Fusco, Shaffer & Pappas and project manager Carl Walker Inc. looked to gather feedback for design ideas from the commission and residents.

According to city documents, the development would feature 397 parking spaces, 11,500 square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space, 39,000 square feet of office space on floors four and five, and a stand-alone residential development that could support 14-24 dwelling units, depending on the desired size of each unit.

“The proposed dwelling units are either efficiency/micro units or one-bedroom units,” a document states. “In addition, The Dot features a Special Events Plaza in the form of a major streetscape on West Troy that covers the entire street frontage along West Troy (less the ingress/egress for the garage). The Special Events Plaza envisions closing down Troy Street to host civic events and such.”

The height of the structure initially would be 39 feet for the four levels of parking and street-level retail, Assistant City Manager Joe Gacioch said. Once that portion is completed, he said the city would begin discussions about adding two levels of office space on the front half of the structure facing West Troy Street, which would bring the height to 65 feet. The back half of the structure facing residential homes would stay at 39 feet.

Topics that arose from the meeting covered concerns about traffic, the height of the building, whether the special events plaza is needed and what local businesses will do without nearby parking for 15 months of construction.

Dan Mooney, one of the architects from Fusco, Shaffer & Pappas, said this was a perfect meeting because they got a lot of good feedback, and this was the first chance to hear specifically from the Planning Commission and the public.

“Some of the things from the public we’ve heard before, and we’re going to take all of that into account as we look at the ordinance and look at the development and get ready to submit our site plan approval package,” he said.

As of now, the hope from the city and architects is to submit an official design by the end of August and get the PUD approved by the commission in September, the City Council in October and have a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2018.

“We have to regroup with the client, who’s the city of Ferndale, and look at what needs to be done and take an appropriate look at everything that needs to be looked at, and make sure that we give everything the due diligence in looking at it,” Mooney said. “We’re not going to rush anything. We’re going to make sure everything is done correctly, but it’s foreseeable that the timeline of submitting later this month is — that’s the schedule and that’s what we’re going to try and stick to.”

A number of residents and business owners spoke to the commission about their concerns with the structure.

Painting with a Twist owner Michelle Lewis is glad to look at parking issues in Ferndale, but she is concerned about the 15-month construction period.

“The 15 months that we are losing 130-odd parking spaces,” she said. “There’s been discussion of things that are going to happen to help with that 15 months, as far as (a) valet situation, but there has been no decision that I know of.”

Resident Jodi Berger said the parking issue is her main concern as well, and that a long period of construction might deter people from visiting the city.

“How can we mitigate the parking situation for those businesses during those 15 months?” she asked.”I don’t know if you talked about contracting anything with Ferndale Foods to set some space to park there and walk further, but we’ll at least have a place to park.

“I’m talking to all the other parents, and we really are concerned, because we have new people coming in all the time as well. I think we’re going to lose those new people,” she continued.

Berger also said she is worried about there being only one entry and exit for the structure, because “it’s crazy Wednesday through Saturday during peak times.”

“I’m wondering what’ll happen if that one-way in and out of the structures gets too crazy, if there’s ever going to be a way to change that,” she said. “Please keep an open mind.”

On this issue of parking, Councilman Dan Martin, council liaison to the Planning Commission, said he wants to pay special attention to the parking mitigation plan during construction. So far, the City Council approved at its June 26 meeting to have valet service Star Trax be the city’s preferred valet vendor during that time.

“We approved funding at council for a valet contract, but there are other things that they’re looking at and trying to develop a total comprehensive plan, including communication with the businesses,” he said. “There’s all kinds of things, and I’ll wait till the final plan comes up to comment on that, but it’s between the DDA and the city staff, (and) I know (they) are working very diligently on it.”

Martin said this meeting was a critical step in the whole process and overall thought attention to the special events plaza was a big deal.

“What’s the functional use versus the inconvenience of it, and make sure we fully thought that out before we implement it — there were concerns raised about it, and so we just need to look harder at it and make sure we address those concerns if we move forward with that piece,” he said.

Martin said he’s trying to keep an open mind about the designs, but he wants to make sure they’re right and respectful to the neighbors.

“We’re all just trying to keep an open mind about this within the parameters and be considerate to the residents and the businesses, and I’m anxious to see what they do with the feedback and (what) comes next,” he said. “There was a lot of good resident feedback.”