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Huntington Woods

October 3, 2012

Woods ranked in top 10 among U.S. suburbs

By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer

HUNTINGTON WOODS — Most Huntington Woods residents take great pride in their city, and last week they received one more reason to feel proud.

In a new series released by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, the city was ranked as the No. 10 “Best Place to Live for Suburbanites” out of approximately 11,000 suburbs surveyed across the U.S. Huntington Woods was also named the second-best suburb in Michigan, behind only East Grand Rapids.

The city’s top 10 ranking was based on myriad factors, including close proximity to amenities that support a suburban lifestyle, strong public safety services, a high percentage of homeownership, an excellent public school system, access to a variety of entertainment and leisure activities, a large number of college graduates, affordable gas prices, an emphasis on home improvement and residents with a substantial amount of disposable income.

“It’s nice to see that other people are recognizing what a terrific place Huntington Woods is to live,” said Mayor Ron Gillham. “A lot of people here work really hard to make it that way, and we really appreciate the great job that they do. Most of the cities on this list are fairly small, just like us, so we feel like we were grouped among our peers.”

But the honor came as a complete surprise to city officials. None of them were contacted by Coldwell Banker during the selection process, nor were they notified once the final list was released.

As City Manager Alex Allie pointed out, “We had no clue — we didn’t even receive a press release about it. This looks like a pretty sophisticated rating system, so to come out near the top of such a huge list of communities certainly speaks very highly of the city. I’m eager to see more of the details about how we measured up against the rest of the field.”

According to Erin Gaiser, vice president of marketing for Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel, the company created its suburban ranking system last summer in order to establish a way of measuring the true value of a home. What they discovered was that numerous factors played into that value beyond the quality of the home itself.

“The lifestyle of people in the area, the surrounding environment, the feeling of community — that’s what draws people to a particular home or neighborhood or city,” she said. “So, these rankings are meant to tell home buyers, ‘If you’re looking for a great suburban community to live in, these are your 10 best options.’”

Gaiser, who grew up in Huntington Woods, said that the community was rated very highly in a number of different categories.

“Huntington Woods is very centrally located and has a lot of diverse options for high-quality suburban amenities,” she explained. “There’s great convenience for anything that families might need. And then there’s the city itself, which is just enchanting: the beautiful and diverse selection of homes, how well maintained everything is, all the great local clubs, organizations and events. I’m very much a city person, but whenever I come back home, I’m still drawn to Huntington Woods.”

Other attributes identified by Coldwell Banker were the historic architecture of the city’s homes and its close proximity to the Detroit Zoo and Rackham Golf Course. Allie pointed out some of Huntington Woods’ other neighbors that add to its allure and convenience: downtown Royal Oak, downtown Ferndale, Woodward Avenue and I-696.

“We’ve always considered ourselves a model city with a really high quality of life and great public services,” he said, “but we’re really fortunate to be located in the shadow of so many other terrific things. This (ranking) is obviously a point of pride for us, and we will more than likely be using it to market and promote the city.”

For Gillham, it’s the people of Huntington Woods that make the biggest difference: both those who live there and those who work for the city. He believes it’s that safe, friendly community feeling that has helped Huntington Woods continue to attract new residents for decades.

“People make a real investment when they purchase a home here, and then they want to make sure they do whatever is necessary to maintain that investment,” Gillham said. “They really care about making the community look as nice as possible. On the city’s end, even though we’ve had to make some cuts over the last few years, (city employees) have really stepped up to make sure there’s no drop-off in our services. Our batting average is probably not quite 1.000, but I think the vast majority of our residents are happy with what we do.”

For more information on Coldwell Banker’s “Best Places to Live for Suburbanites” rankings, go to http://bestplaces.coldwellbanker.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jeremy Selweski at jSelweski@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5004.