Walgreens will reshape Orchard Lake, officials say
ORCHARD LAKE — Altering the look of the Pontiac Trail and Orchard Lake Road intersection, the building containing the closed Chaldean Cuisine will be demolished to make room for a new, flagship Walgreens store, which is proposed to be completed by the fall.
“In the last 35 years, no tenant or business has been able to be successful at the location,” said Larry Campbell, Walgreens developer.
To ensure success, Campbell said the location is being reconfigured for easier access.
“It’s a rare opportunity for Orchard Lake to be able to see redevelopment of such a problematic intersection real estate,” Campbell said.
At the Nov. 7 meeting, the city’s Planning Commission approved the Walgreens site plan with conditions, such as revising the landscape plan to include evergreens and obtaining a cross-access agreement.
The current building is tired and functionally obsolete, which is the reason it is being demolished, Campbell said. In its place will stand a 14,820-square-foot store that will be open 24 hours, contain a health clinic and sell beer and wine.
“From the city’s perspective, obviously we’re going to take an older building — a building that’s not really maintained that well — and we’re going to have a brand new commercial building with brick and stone on it, and it’s going to look good,” said Gerry McCallum, director of city services for Orchard Lake.
To allow for the 113 parking spaces, the new building will sit farther back than the current building.
“The biggest, dramatic thing is you’re going to see a huge improvement in sight lines at the intersection, only because the building right now … is close to the road … and this building is proposed to be pulled back a substantial amount to where you’re really going to open the viewing lines up,” McCallum said.
McCallum said the interesting thing to him about the project is that the developers are seeking approval from the Road Commission for Oakland County to restructure the traffic light to add a fourth phase. As it stands, the light is three phases.
“The developer emphasized numerous times that Walgreens will not come into a site like this unless they can provide good traffic flow and safe traffic flow for their patrons,” McCallum said.
The biggest concern for council members and residents has been the traffic flow at the intersection and what effect a four-phase light will have on the congestion.
Thomas Itin, a resident of Orchard Lake, commented at the City Council and Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Dec. 15 that there are 33 pharmacies around Orchard Lake and there is no need for an additional pharmacy. Itin also questioned how long of a delay the four-phase traffic signal will cause.
Carlo Santia, traffic engineer for Walgreens, responded that according to the completed traffic study, a 10-second signal will delay 60 feet of traffic, which is three cars.
A traffic study was completed at the intersection in August, and the peak driving hour was 4-5 p.m., Santia said at the meeting. The proposed Walgreens will add approximately 77 cars during that time.
The traffic signal will only activate if there is a car in the driveway, Santia said. Once it’s activated, it will allow a maximum of 10 seconds to exit Walgreens, which breaks down to a five-second green light, a three-second yellow light and a two-second red light.
According to Craig Bryson, public information officer for the Road Commision for Oakland County, the traffic light will be turned into a four-phase light. Left turns will be prohibited at the south Walgreens exit.
Once all the conditions are met, Campbell said the developers are looking to begin construction in the spring and complete the building by fall 2014.
“I was extremely impressed with the cooperation and the support that we received from the city of Orchard Lake and the adjacent communities to this location,” Campbell said.