City says plans for six-story apartment complex need more work

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published July 20, 2016

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The Troy Planning Commission sent a developer back to the drawing board after taking a first look at plans July 12 for a six-story, 152-unit apartment building on a 2.5-acre parcel on McClure, just north of Big Beaver Road, east of Crooks Road.

The developer, Tollbrook LLC,  submitted the plans for the apartment complex to glean feedback from the commission. If the plans are approved, the Troy City Council would have to approve a conditional rezoning for the parcel from single-family residential to Big Beaver District. The Planning Commission is the recommending body on rezoning requests and has approval over site plans.

Under a conditional rezoning, the developer may not deviate from the approved site plan.

The site currently contains one single-family home.

The plans discussed featured six studio apartments, 118 one-bedroom units, 23 two-bedroom units, five three-bedroom units, an underground parking garage and a 60-foot setback from the property line of the nearest home.

Dick Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, told the Planning Commission that the Troy master plan does call for higher density uses along the Big Beaver corridor, and he noted that it also calls for “stepping down, transition in density as it gets close to residential neighborhoods.”

“We recommend stepping down in intensity, height or both. … Looking compatible with neighboring homes and stepping down the density,” Carlisle said.

Peter Stuhlreyer, of Designhaus Architecture, told the Planning Commission that the 170,000-square-foot apartment building would have a water fountain, a plaza, green roofs and a first-floor lobby, and would be constructed with steel, concrete and masonry.

“Big Beaver is splattered with tallness,” Stuhlreyer said. “I don’t think it’s unattractive.”

“I don’t see transition happening at this point,” said Planning Commissioner John Tagle.

“I cannot approve a six-story project,” said Planning Commissioner Michael Hutson.

“To have this impose on this neighborhood is just not fair,” said Planning Commissioner Tom Krent.

Planning Commissioner Karen Crusse noted that the four-story Amber apartment project on Town Center also required a conditional rezoning.

“I think it’s housing we need,” she said. “The question becomes, where does the Big Beaver Zoning District begin and end?”

She added that approving the project as is would set a precedent.

“It’s the kind of housing we want, just not the right location,” said Planning Commission Chair Donald Edmunds. He urged the developers to meet with neighbors.

Troy City Planning Director R. Brent Savidant suggested reducing the height of the building and possibly creating two buildings. 

“You didn’t create this district for no reason,” said Dennis Cowan, of Plunkett Cooney, the attorney for the developer. “You created this corridor … to see what would come. We believe this is the right location,” he said, noting the proximity to restaurants and shopping. He added that young professionals do not want to live in traditional housing. “You’re competing with downtown Detroit. In Detroit, there are not enough apartment buildings,” he said.

“We’re going back to the drawing board,” Cowan said. “We understand your concerns. We’re going to work with you and come back.”
Carlisle said that this kind of proposed development is “not going to be the first one or last one you see.”

“Troy is back in the game,” Savidant said. “Demand is rising.”