OHM selected as Northland master planner

By: Kayla Dimick, | Southfield Sun | Published May 18, 2016

SOUTHFIELD — After unveiling a market study to see what residents want to see in Northland Center’s future, the city has selected OHM Advisors as the master planner for the property.

City Community Relations Director Michael Manion said in a news release that through a published competitive bidding process, the city of Southfield selected OHM Advisors from a field of seven finalists to develop a conceptual, market-driven master redevelopment plan.

OHM, an architecture, engineering and planning firm, was founded in Detroit in 1962 and boasts a list of clients that includes Fortune 500 companies, cities, retailers and private developers.

At its regular meeting March 21, the Southfield City Council approved a $300,000 land development consultant services contract for the former Northland Center site, 21500 Northwestern Highway, 6-0. Councilman Donald Fracassi abstained from voting because he said he did not have enough information to vote at the time.

“We’re strong believers in this mall. It has a strong history and tie to the community,” Jim Houk, vice president of OHM and project manager for the Northland site, said at the meeting. “The wrong thing for us to do is scrap the whole thing and put something new in there. We have to find that tie back to the community, and we have to make it a place for the community. We’ll have to look very hard at the elements of this project that bring some of that history back.”

City Administrator Fred Zorn said the market study unveiled last month is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning the redevelopment of the mall property. Zorn said the company has assembled a team that will look at statistics, brownfield redevelopment, economic incentives and housing analysis, to name a few.

Zorn said construction has already begun on the site. Eight-foot fencing was recently installed around the perimeter of the mall.

“We are starting to stockpile dirt, and we have completed all of the environmental assessments,” Zorn said. “All of those results have come back. We know we’ve got asbestos in that building … none of it is really a surprise. Some of us were expecting this or much worse. There’s nothing that we saw as a hurdle in the development process.”

Although the fence is up, the Regional Bus Transit Center and the city’s downtown police substation remain open and accessible. Employees of St. John Providence Hospital who have been parking at Northland Center will be reassigned to hospital-owned parking spaces, Manion said.

Zorn said previously that the money for redevelopment will come out of the city’s tax base initiative fund.