With funding from the City Center Advisory Board, phase two of the “Monarch Butterfly Sculpture,” outside Eaton Corp., will add a butterfly garden this year.

With funding from the City Center Advisory Board, phase two of the “Monarch Butterfly Sculpture,” outside Eaton Corp., will add a butterfly garden this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Annual address highlights developments in Southfield

Residents express concerns about blight, deer

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published April 4, 2024


SOUTHFIELD — Southfield Mayor Ken Siver and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett  delivered their annual addresses at the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s meeting March 25. They delivered a recap to the community March 28, followed by a question-and-answer session.

“Does anyone need a pompon? Because tonight we’re doing audience participation. We have a lot to cheer about. There are a lot of very good things that have taken place in the last year,” Siver stated.

The theme for this year’s address was “Touchdown to Success.” Upon entering the council chambers, audience members were equipped with pompons and were encouraged to cheer as Siver shared updates on economic developments, housing, the Northland redevelopment, community placemaking and public art.

Keeping with the football theme, Siver said that although he’s not “the biggest jock,” he was thrilled to see Southfield A&T win its first state championship in school history 36-32 over Belleville, and to welcome the new coach at Lawrence Technological University, Scott Merchant.

The mayor mentioned the $2.5 million investment in parks projects — using funds from capital improvement dollars, federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars and a $600,000 Michigan Economic Development Corp. grant for the Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve — that occurred in several parks throughout Southfield, including the installation of new playground equipment in Civic Center Park, Freeway Park and Bedford Woods Park as the first stage in the Parks and Recreation Department’s plan to replace all 12 playgrounds throughout the city. He also mentioned that Simms and Miller parks received renovations, with new paved walking paths and the addition of basketball courts.

“I think for 20 years our residents have been asking for a dog park,” he said. “And so we’re going to have a dog park in Lahser Woods.”

He said a membership will be required, and a key fob system will be used to enter the dog park. He added that vaccinations and a license will be required for all dogs. There will be separate areas for small dogs and large dogs. Lahser Woods Park will also receive a new parking lot and pathway.

“What we’ve been working on for over a decade is to make Southfield more pedestrian-friendly, and we’re seeing the rewards of that. We see a lot of people walking, walking their dog, pushing their stroller, just out as we’ve added 20 miles of pathways in the last 11 years, and more coming,” Siver stated. “It’s not just about pathways. You have to layer on points of interest. It’s what makes a vibrant city. So we are creating public spaces that improve urban vitality.”

He shared that the Nine Mile Road corridor revitalization project saw the completion of Evergreen to Prescott in 2023, and another phase of it will be from Prescott to Lahser this year.

The Nine Mile corridor revitalization is a grant-funded public improvement project supported by Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Oak Park and Southfield to create a 10-foot-wide pathway between the communities.

This year, the Southfield Public Arts Commission will install three new pieces, including the “Nine Mile Crossing” sculpture, by Sebastian (Enrique Carbajal), which will stand 98 feet tall at the intersection of Nine Mile and the Southfield Freeway, as well as two pieces by the Nordin brothers of the Detroit Design Center: “The Key,” which will be located at 10 Mile Road and Northwestern Highway, and “Brothers,” at Nine Mile and Beech roads. He said two murals will be installed at Beech Woods Recreation Center “any day now” that were created by artists who won the mural competition held by the Friends of Southfield Public Arts.

The mayor also shared some economic developments, such as the opening of the Costco business center, 21110 Northwestern Highway, and Lucid Motors opening in Southfield.

“A mob was out there waiting to get in at 7 a.m. on opening day,” he said of Costco. “They did $800,000 in sales on the first day. If you haven’t been back, they’re busy all the time. And they hired a whole bunch of Southfield people who are local people,” the mayor said. “Lucid Motors is coming to Southfield; they’re across the street in Travelers Tower, taking 33,000 square feet of space, that’s two floors and 262 jobs, and they are hiring.”

Siver emphasized the importance of adaptive reuse in the Northland City Center redevelopment project. “As a society, we throw so much away.  … We’re keeping the original mall because it was so well constructed.” He said an engineering study showed that seven stories could be built on top of the original foundation of Northland.

Similarly, the adaptive reuse of two vacant elementary schools will see housing conversions. McKinley Place condominiums are underway with condos ranging in size from 950 square feet to 2,500 square feet, and on the playground will be duplex condos, at around 2,200 square feet. All 40 units will have two-car garages. Construction on the John Grace Arms senior apartments will begin in May with the addition of 60 apartment units for senior housing.

“We have 508 units of subsidized senior housing. The Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation does not advertise subsidized senior housing because word of mouth is, ‘This a great place to live.’ The units are all up to date, great activities for our seniors there, and they’re safe. There are cameras in the halls, parking lot, lobby and all that.”

Residents raised concerns about a community pool, stricter code enforcement for litterers and noisy neighbors, cleanup efforts for litter, worries that blight moving into the area could diminish property values and the plan for the growing deer population.

Siver said 62% of residents voted to cull the deer herd.

“But it doesn’t make sense for us to do it because deer don’t respect municipal boundaries,” he said.

Siver said he was at a meeting a few weeks ago in Farmington with local mayors and the Department of Natural Resources and that the best way to control the deer population is through sharpshooters.

“It’s the cheapest and most effective, but a lot of people don’t want people shooting off guns. So, birth control does not work. They do it with dart guns, and you can miss, and it’s expensive. And then you have to do a booster. They will not trap and release them because deer have specific diseases, and they’re acclimated to certain parts of the state. So the DNR did tell us that in January we can do a bow and arrow hunt, and then I heard from people, ‘Oh, you don’t want to do that because it’ll just injure them and won’t necessarily kill them.’ The whole thing is a mess, quite honestly.”

Siver referred residents to the Southfield Solutions app to report code violations.

“It’s a complicated issue, but when I became mayor, I cut my office funding … because I wanted another code officer. So we have six people working in code. And I will tell you, I report things all the time, and there is a site called Southfield Solutions. We regularly monitor that. But people play games. Why do we have two large hotels that are still vacant? We’re just tearing down two houses because we have slumlords that play games. And we have something called due process.”

He added that he encourages residents to pay attention to the upcoming judicial election to elect judges that are going to give more than a “slap on the wrist” and who will maintain a “Southfield standard.”

“We have fought very hard to keep our standards up,” he said. “Anybody can come here and live here. But you got to be on our program. You got to keep your property up. You’ve got to do the right thing.”

In her remarks, Garrett said that she continued in her role as mayor because of the great support of the team in Lathrup Village.

“I want to say that without the team that Lathrup Village has, the resilience that they have shown, the support, and just the compassion. And I’m trying to think of all the great words to say about them. But I am so grateful. And I want to say it publicly that we have the team that we have,” Garrett said.

Garrett commended the programming by the Lathrup Village Downtown Development Authority that brought 16 community events to Lathrup Village, with over 1,176 attendees to events such as the Tri-City Business Workshops, Southfield Road corridor cleanups, the Juneteenth celebration and the Lathrup Village Music Festival.

“Since 2020, the district has seen more than $684,000 of public and $920,000 of private investment,” she said.

Additionally, the DDA installed 44 hanging flower baskets throughout the district, and three pedestrian walk signs will be installed in early 2025 to increase pedestrian safety.

She noted new Lathrup Village businesses, including Style Guru, the Event House and 44 Burrito. “I was very happy to see all of the new businesses that we have.”

For more information, see "Mayor Dr. Ken Siver 2024 State of the City Address" at cityofsouthfield.com.

To stay up to date about Lathrup Village, visit lathrupvillage.org.