This is a rendering of what Icon Park could look like along Mound Road.

This is a rendering of what Icon Park could look like along Mound Road.

Rendering provided by ARH Land Holdings LLC courtesy of the city of Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights approves apartment complex at 14 Mile and Mound

Complex to include ‘microunits,’ outdoor reflecting pond

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 26, 2022

 Vacant land along Mound Road north of 14 Mile is poised to become the site of new apartments after the Sterling Heights City Council approved a proposal Oct. 4.

Vacant land along Mound Road north of 14 Mile is poised to become the site of new apartments after the Sterling Heights City Council approved a proposal Oct. 4.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


STERLING HEIGHTS — The intersection of 14 Mile and Mound roads is on course to eventually get a new apartment complex that will include 308-square-foot microunits.

ARH Land Holdings LLC presented its planned unit development proposal for an Icon Park apartment complex at an Oct. 4 Sterling Heights City Council meeting. The council approved the PUD plan 5-2, with Councilman Henry Yanez and Councilwoman Deanna Koski voting no.

Icon Park will be located on seven vacant parcels, around 5.6 acres altogether, around the 14 Mile-Mound intersection. Five apartment buildings, three stories each, will sit on that land and offer 140 residential units.

Those will include 56 two-bedroom units of 831 square feet each with an estimated monthly rent of $1,640, 56 one-bedroom units with 645 square feet each for $1,250, and — most uniquely — 28 microunits with 308 square feet each for $850.

One apartment building will have indoor community amenities with space for parties, games, work stations, exercise and more. Outdoor amenities will include a kids playscape, walking paths, linear courtyards and a reflecting pond.

According to city Assistant City Attorney Alyssa Albright, the land is within the city’s Innovation Support District, which is meant to support the Mound Road industrial corridor. She said multiple-family residential units are applicable within limits there.

City officials also said the PUD framework is necessary for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is that city zoning requirements would normally require 616,000 square feet, and the current plan only has 243,500 square feet. Also, in terms of open space and recreation, the proposal only has 28,000 square feet of the 70,000 normally required — not counting the indoor amenities — city officials said. And, typically, a minimum of 600 square feet per unit is required.

Developers Randy Najjar and Amer Batal spoke about the proposal. Batal co-owns Urban Air Adventure Park in Sterling Heights.

The developers mentioned how the 14 Mile-Mound intersection has easy access to major defense and automotive industries, as well as Amazon, plus close access to major highways and freeways. Batal said there is a demand for apartments there.

“We do feel that we are a pretty good transition between the commercial route along Mound Road and then the residential to the west,” Najjar added.

During public comment, resident Joseph Znoy spoke and aired concerns that microunits could cause cabin fever and overcrowding. He said that could lead to more substance abuse, depression, aggression, domestic violence, potential disease transmission, odors, sound transmission and more.

Najjar said the developers have researched urban developments in places like Detroit and Ann Arbor and found microunits to be “very, very popular.” Batal said there would be a maximum occupancy of two people per microunit.

While Najjar said microunits are not for everyone, he said they’re comparable to or larger than many dorms and senior facility spaces, and there still are unit options in other sizes. Batal said the outdoor and indoor complex amenities will help prevent cabin fever.

“They do provide an opportunity for individuals to rent their own space while having a fairly affordable rent on a monthly basis,” Najjar said. “So although they are quite smaller than what is typically allowed for in the ordinance, we do feel that this would be something that … can bring in new residents to the city and many residents would appreciate.”

Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko said the state has a housing shortage. She said that since she moved to Sterling Heights in the late 1970s, the corner of 14 Mile and Mound has looked “terrible,” and she believes it’s a “perfect place to put it” since the investment will make it look better.

Koski said she had concerns over privacy issues and the buildings’ proximity to one another. She also didn’t like the small size of the microunits.

“They give me chills,” she said.

On the microunits, Yanez said he’d “let the market decide,” and his guess is that the microunits will get rented out. But he was worried that kids could drown in the reflecting pond, despite the developers predicting that it would be 6 to 12 inches deep.

Mayor Michael Taylor said the project is a “home run” and that the microunits could suit the needs of the younger generation, as well as other demographics.

“I just don’t understand this mentality that, ‘Well, Sterling Heights is a place where we’ve got single-family residential houses on 60-foot-by-120-foot lots, and that’s where it’s been since the second World War, and that’s the way it’s going to be until the sun swallows the Earth,’” Taylor said.

“No. We have to adapt to the times.”

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