New retail center to take place of vacant building

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 3, 2013

Saying they wished to give the developer time to address a number of issues before granting approval, Planning Commission members postponed approval of a site plan for a retail center on Big Beaver.  

Developer Jordan Jonna had submitted the site plan for a 17,000-square-foot multiple tenant retail center on 1.6 acres on the south side of Big Beaver, just west of Crooks, on the site of the present Christenson Building. 

If plans are approved, the three-story Christenson Building, vacant for more than four years and which does not comply with current zoning guidelines along Big Beaver, would be demolished.

Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, said the intent for future development along Big Beaver is to build from lot line to lot line along the right of way and to offer a mix of uses — commercial, office and residential towers — rather than a collection of isolated multistory office buildings set far back from the sidewalk. The current vacancy rate for office buildings in the city is 30 percent.

While Carlisle and the city Planning Department had recommended a number of changes to the site plans, they supported the conceptual development of the site.

“It is bringing the site into greater compliance,” Carlisle said to the Planning Commission at the March 26 special meeting.

The changes and requests included altering a retaining wall, reducing parking space, including a bicycle rack, constructing a pedestrian walkway through the parking lot, providing samples of building materials, and revising the landscape and lighting plans. 

“We’ve been committed to Troy,” Jonna said to the Planning Commission. “We feel the area can use more retail space.”

He said he doesn’t have tenants for the center yet, but he expects them to include restaurants. The submitted plan features a patio area for outside seating.

“Any restaurant development will push for outdoor seating,” Jonna said.

He said the building materials for the center will be limestone and red brick. 

“Until we have steel going up, that’s when we get phone calls,” he said, referring to inquiries from retailers and restaurant owners that only show interest when they see something being built. “We want to move as quickly as possible.”

“I like your idea,” Planning Commissioner Michael Hutson said. “But there are too many vague conditions. Come back with the finer details and calculations.”

The Planning Commission unanimously postponed approval of the site plan for the center until its April 9 meeting.