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Commissioners to residents: Central Park Development is not a done deal

Officials say $100 million proposal is at beginning stages of consideration

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published May 4, 2016

 One element of a proposed municipal complex under consideration is a 30,000-square-foot City Hall floor with a continuous and secure service counter where all departments could be accessed in one place.

One element of a proposed municipal complex under consideration is a 30,000-square-foot City Hall floor with a continuous and secure service counter where all departments could be accessed in one place.

Rendering provided by the city of Royal Oak

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ROYAL OAK — City commissioners had a message to convey during their April 25 meeting: The more than $100 million Central Park Development Group proposal including City Hall, the Police Department and a park is not a done deal.

“I want to put that out there so folks know,” City Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said. “It’s frustrating when people say this is a done deal, and I’m like, ‘Done for who?’ This is the front end of this conversation, and just because a developer has a concept they are pitching does not mean that they have the support of the City Commission.”

The message was aimed at those saying commissioners had already made up their minds to approve the Central Park Development Group proposal for a municipal complex. That proposal was revealed to the public during a special meeting April 18. 

DuBuc said that while some of the commissioners had seen preliminary concepts from the developer, until the April special meeting they hadn’t had the formal presentation from staff to go over the cost-benefits of the development versus improving the existing City Hall and how any of it would be financed.

“It is under consideration and the conversation is ongoing,” he said.

DuBuc said there still needs to be significant public dialogue before any decisions are made, which is why he recommended another town hall meeting.

The request to host another special meeting at a larger venue in the near future, and the approval of an extension of the Central Park Development Group’s preferred-developer exclusivity period for three months, was unanimously approved during the April 25 meeting.

The exclusivity agreement with the team consisting of the Boji Group, the Surnow Company and Randall Denha was set to expire May 3.

Hallmarks of the proposal include a six-story parking deck with 550 parking spaces along 11 Mile Road behind the alleyway of Main Street businesses; a 190,000-square-foot, seven-story City Center Office Building abutting the Main Street alleyway and Third Street; an $18.75 million, 39,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Police Department to the north of the courthouse with an adjoined walkway; and a central park.

The plans also include a tunnel under Second Street stretching from the basement of the parking deck into the office building or City Hall, and a gourmet restaurant and market. Boji said the 30,000-square-foot City Hall inside the development would have its own entrance with one counter and clearly defined, secure service areas.

The development stretches from Main Street east to Knowles Street with southern and northern borders of Third Street and 11 Mile Road, respectively, and it incorporates the existing 44th District Court, Royal Oak Public Library, Starr Dream Fountain and Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial.

“The way I’ve approached this all along — I said this when we voted on it — we’re essentially getting a free look at what our city center could be from this developer, and if it’s something we like, then we can move forward on it,” City Commissioner Jeremy Mahrle said. “And I wholeheartedly agree that we need to have more meetings, more discussion on it.”

Mahrle said he doesn’t think the concept will change very much, but he hopes the developer is taking notes from the feedback received.
City Commissioner Sharlan Douglas said the proposed concept doesn’t come out of nowhere.

“If you look at the commission’s strategic plans over the past five years, this has clearly been a concept that the commission has been exploring and advancing over time,” she said.

Douglas said it is an idea they embrace.

“We are interested in reconfiguring our city center, and in a central park as a main feature of that,” she said.

Mayor Jim Ellison said the current City Hall building is functionally obsolete.

“We need to go in a different direction if we’re going to continue to have the city grow,” he said.

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