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$1.2M Maxfield Training Center sale makes way for apartments

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published September 27, 2016

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FARMINGTON — The deal is finally done.

After years of anticipation, the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the sale of the Maxfield Training Center for $1.2 million to AC Acquisitions to develop about 163 apartments and seven townhomes.

The vote came during a school board meeting Sept. 20.

“This has been a long time coming,” Jon Riebe, the district’s facilities, operations and transportation director, said during a Sept. 6 special Board of Education meeting hosted by the district’s Building and Site Safety Committee.

Riebe said the MTC property is 10 acres divided into the two parcels, and 3 acres were sold to the company.

FPS owns the adjacent 7-acre parcel in Shiawassee Park, which includes a stairwell between the parcels, according to a school document. 

Riebe said that the 7 acres are part of the city’s master plan and will be redeveloped at some point.

The district received four proposals for the FPS-owned MTC, 33000 Thomas St., from interested parties June 22. Two additional proposals were submitted late.

Riebe said during the special meeting that four years ago, the school district discovered that there were title defects when they tried to put the property up for sale.

“We didn’t have a marketable title,” Riebe said, adding that four years and a lot of legal work later, the school district finally has a marketable title.

A marketable title is holding ownership of property that is reasonably free of defects and liens that would subject it to a lawsuit. 

“That is good news,” he said.

The proposals were reviewed by the school district’s  property consultant, Great Northern Consulting Group representative Bill Bowman, Farmington officials, Riebe and Jon Manier, FPS executive director of instructional services.

“Conducting interviews gave the team a global perspective on each company,” Riebe said. “We also gained an understanding of their previously completed projects and their ability to finance the development. All developers showed great interest in the property.”

The interview team asked developers to give their last-and-best offer July 22, when AC Acquisitions put in the $1.2 million offer,  Curtis Building Co. offered $935,000, Lorenzo Cavaliere/Michael Smith offered $1.15 million, and SDC Ventures offered $850,000.

All proposals included demolishing the MTC building through a brownfield redevelopment grant to receive future tax money to fund the demolition, according to an FPS document.

Riebe said one of the architects for the project is a Harrison High School graduate.

The city will have the final say on the development.

Kevin Christiansen, city economic and community development director, said during the special meeting that he was at the meeting to observe the proceedings because the city will be involved in the project.

“We certainly look forward to continuing working with Farmington Public Schools on all of our projects in the city of Farmington,” Christiansen said. “We’ve been part of this RFP for the project for an informational perspective. … Today we haven’t conducted any formal evaluation. Our City Council, our Planning Commission, our Downtown Development Authority will eventually all have to get involved.”

 He added after the meeting in an email statement that the city is glad to see the sale of the Maxfield Training Center move forward.

During the Sept. 6 special meeting, Trustee Terri Weems asked Riebe how the school board can ensure that whatever proposal they choose will most likely be approved by the city. She also asked what factors went into the selection of AC Acquisitions.

Riebe said he thinks the school district picked the best proposal because AC Acquisitions has an “outstanding” portfolio and extensive experience.

“We don’t want something just sitting there,” Riebe said, adding that price was a factor, as were the developer’s design and creativity. “Because the Maxfield Training Center has tight quarters.”

Trustee Sheilah Clay said during the meeting that she is familiar with the projects that AC Acquisitions has done in Detroit.

“If this is any indication, then they (have) a good developer,” Clay said. 

Walter Cohen, of AC Acquisitions, thanked Clay.

“We are proud of what we have done in the city of Detroit,” Cohen said.

Trustee Terry Johnson asked during the special meeting how soon the school district will see the funds.

Riebe said he does not have a definitive answer, but it will take some time to go through the planning process with the city.

“I’m sure everybody will try to expedite this project because it is a big project for the community and downtown Farmington,” Riebe said.

A parking deck would also be in the works for the apartments and townhomes development.

For more information, go to www.farmington.k12.mi.us or www.ci.farmington.mi.us.

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