Berkley ready to begin downtown parking upgrades

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published April 26, 2011

 The Berkley Downtown Development Authority will soon begin construction on its long-   awaited project to improve the municipal parking lot on the south side of 12 Mile Road, between Griffith and Robina avenues.

The Berkley Downtown Development Authority will soon begin construction on its long- awaited project to improve the municipal parking lot on the south side of 12 Mile Road, between Griffith and Robina avenues.

File photo by David Schreiber


BERKLEY — The city will soon be moving forward with a plan to spruce up a major downtown parking lot that has been almost four years in the making.

At its April 18 meeting, the Berkley City Council unanimously approved a $464,484 contract for the Downtown Development Authority’s parking improvement project to rehabilitate the municipal lot on the south side of 12 Mile Road, between Griffith and Robina avenues.

According to Keith Logsdon, chair of the DDA Board of Trustees’ parking committee, the project will involve resurfacing the entire lot, adding six new parking spaces, upgrading the adjacent streets and installing additional landscaping to beautify the area.

“The goal is to improve the streetscape along the backs of those buildings (on 12 Mile),” he told the council. “We want to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment in back of the buildings so that the people who park in this municipal lot can have a more pleasant experience. … And (there are) some little pockets here that are great opportunities for things like outdoor dining, bike racks, benches, pedestrian lighting and so forth.”

In addition, Logsdon explained, the project will help make the parking lot safer and cleaner by improving storm water management and establishing a single trash drop-off spot.

“Right now, there are Dumpsters along the backs of all these buildings, and it’s a real mess,” he said. “So the goal is to consolidate all of that and put it in a central location. By doing this, we’re told that these businesses will in fact save money by having everything done centrally, and it will keep (the area) looking a lot nicer.”

City Engineer Tom Biehl noted that the project’s $464,000 price tag was nearly 20 percent lower than the $580,000 that he and his firm — Hubbell, Roth & Clark — had originally projected. It is also significantly less than the low bid of approximately $542,000 that the city received for the project a year ago.

“As you’ll recall,” Biehl told the council, “we did take bids on this last year. But we rebid it this year, and we’re pleased to say that … due to the economy, the prices have dropped, and we’ve gotten some more favorable bids.”

However, when other potential costs — including 5 percent construction contingency costs, 15 percent engineering costs, and up to $98,000 for lighting and electrical work — are factored in to the contract, the project could potentially end up costing the city as much as $658,000.

But according to Finance Director David Sabuda, no matter what the final price is, the city will not spend a single dollar of general fund money on this venture. The majority of the expenditures will come from tax increment finance (TIF) funds out of the DDA’s budget, he said, while the remainder will be paid for by the city’s major and local street funds.

As Councilman Steve Baker put it, “It sounds like we’re in fact taking the gains that were made and reinvesting them into the downtown in anticipation of additional gains.”

The improvements to the Griffith/Robina lot were originally recommended in a 2009 parking study by the consulting firm LSL Planning. The DDA Board hired LSL to help identify parking deficiencies throughout Berkley’s two-mile downtown district, which covers 12 Mile, between Greenfield Road and Coolidge Highway, and Coolidge, between 11 and 12 Mile roads.

Logsdon pointed out that the project carries another purpose besides simply rehabilitating a single parking lot. “The other goal … is to serve as a catalyst for future developments in the city, much as 12 Mile has,” he said. “Over the past year, 23 new businesses have opened in Berkley. That’s quite an accomplishment in an economy like this, and our hope is that as things begin to improve, that will happen even more.”

Biehl said that the parking lot renovations would begin within two weeks of the council’s approval. The majority of the construction should be finished by July 15, he said, with final landscaping work to be completed prior to Berkley CruiseFest on Aug. 19. He estimated that the improvements should then last the city between 15 and 18 years.

In a subsequent interview, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Terbrack praised the DDA Board for its dedication in helping to revitalize a key area of downtown Berkley.

“The backs of those businesses right now are looking pretty drab and uninviting,” he said. “Now they will be much more aesthetically pleasing and welcoming for anyone who parks back there.”

While Terbrack initially had some reservations about the cost of the project, his worries were assuaged when he saw how it would actually be funded.

“My biggest concern was the general fund,” he said, “but we will not be expending any money from that part of our budget. That makes a lot more economic sense and makes this project a lot more palatable for me. And even though the economy is not going exceedingly well right now, the one good thing to come out of it is that we were able to get some really favorable bids for this project.”