Commission seeks input on future City Hall

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published January 18, 2017

 One iteration of recent Royal Oak city center development plans includes the possibility of a stand-alone City Hall south of the farmers market building along Second Street.

One iteration of recent Royal Oak city center development plans includes the possibility of a stand-alone City Hall south of the farmers market building along Second Street.

Rendering provided by the Central Park Development Group

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ROYAL OAK — The City Commission is seeking input on design aspects of a $100 million Royal Oak city center development by the end of the month so that planning can continue on the proposed project.

Input is needed before the commission’s next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 inside Royal Oak City Hall, 211 S. Williams St.

“We’re going to be bringing this back on the 23rd to make a decision whether or not we want to continue moving forward looking at an independent, stand-alone City Hall option or a condominiumized option, but at that meeting we are not inking any deals,” said Mayor Michael Fournier.

When city and elected officials began discussing the Central Park Development Group project early last year, preliminary renderings showed City Hall as two floors within a mixed-use office building that would be owned by the city as a condominium.

As discussions progressed throughout 2016, commissioners instructed members of the Royal Oak city center committee — created to assist city staff with reviewing the Royal Oak civic center proposal and providing input on key terms — to look at the viability of a stand-alone two-story building owned by the city.

An update of the project was presented to the commission Jan. 9 with the message that in order for the project to progress further, commissioners would need to decide how they envision a future City Hall.

“We are rapidly getting at the point where, unless we have action from this body in terms of which way to go, that we cannot move forward, nor the developer can move forward with the project as it stands,” said Economic Development Manager Todd Fenton.

Plante Moran CRESA Partner Greg VanKirk said the cost differential between a stand-alone building and condominium are negligible, and either way, a new City Hall would cost between $9 million and $10.5 million. He presented plans to the commission last week that showed a City Hall building to the south of the existing Royal Oak Farmers Market structure along Troy Street. The City Hall, as proposed, would still face a proposed central park.

Other aspects of the existing plans are the same as what have been shown throughout last year, including a multistory parking deck; a 190,000-square-foot, seven-story city center office building; a new $18.75 million Police Department to the north of the courthouse with an adjoined walkway; and a central park.

The proposed footprint would include the existing 44th District Court, the Royal Oak Public Library, the Royal Oak Farmers Market, the Starr Dream Fountain and the Veterans War Memorial.

“It’s all high-level design review at this point,” VanKirk said. “Nothing into the business or legal issues.”

The City Hall, Police Department and central park would be paid for with limited tax general obligation bonds that do not include a tax pledge, with payments coming from the city’s general fund.

Fournier said residents are invited to contact anyone on the commission before the next meeting, and all contact information may be found by visiting www.romi.gov. Residents may also call City Hall at (248) 246-3050 for contact information.

“We’ve been available. We’ve been receiving — at least I can speak for myself — consistent, regular feedback on this project,” Fournier said. “A lot of great ideas, a lot of questions that we’ve covered, and some we haven’t that we’ve had to get answers to, and certainly (the feedback will) play a role in our decision-making as it relates to this body.”

Fournier said that at some point soon, a plan must be chosen.

“We’ve pushed this up the hill I think almost as far as we can,” Fenton said. “Our design development dollars are limited, so we cannot explore really more than one option as a conceptual plan moving forward.”

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