Community gets first glance at new City Hall plans

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published July 22, 2015

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — Residents gathered around tables for a presentation and discussion on the latest design plans for an all-new City Hall recently.

Representatives from the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan State University met with community members at 6 p.m. July 16 in the Community Room of Lathrup Village City Hall to discuss the latest developments on the future of the building, located at 27400 Southfield Road.

Lathrup Village was recently selected to be part of the PlacePlans project, which is spearheaded by the MML and aims to aid cities by lending technical assistance with key economic development projects.

In order to be included in the project, Assistant City Administrator Martha Potere said in an earlier report, the city wrote a letter of intent after thinking about which project would create a better sense of place in the community, citing the heavy use of the parks and grounds of City Hall.

“The purpose of the project here, as well as all our other PlacePlans projects, is to assist communities in some need that they have to make their community the best version of themselves that they can be,” MML Program Coordinator Richard Murphy said.

Lathrup Village’s inclusion in the project will be covered by a grant from the MML and MSU, Murphy said. The projects are also completed through support from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Gov. Rick Synder’s MIplace Partnership.

After its selection, the Michigan Municipal League and city officials held a visioning session Feb. 26 for residents to share what they thought their ideal City Hall and the grounds surrounding it would look like.

From there, officials took the suggestions from the community, and a design team created two design plans for residents to review and critique March 26.

During this session, residents gave their feedback through sticky notes placed on the plans, which lined the stage. 

The first plan, called Village Green, featured flowers, arbors, greenery and walkable green lawns. The second plan, called Village Plaza, featured a more urban feel with shops and underground parking.

Murphy said officials with the MML sifted through over 300 sticky notes and combined the comments with aspects from both design plans into one new plan.

“Lathrup Village seeks to create a village center that’s as great a place as its neighborhoods are. Something that we’ve heard from you in the past meetings is that the neighborhoods, the homes, the communities are really the strength of Lathrup Village, but then in the center, we have Southfield Road and the very auto-oriented commercial strip development that really doesn’t do justice to the surrounding neighborhoods. So we want to provide a central focal point that you have identified as something you want,” Murphy said. 

Warren Rauhe, professor of landscape architecture from Michigan State University, who presented the design plans, said suggestions were formed into 12 design principles implemented into the new plan.

•  A good balance of green space.

•  A multipurpose farmers market area.

• Improved retail along Southfield Road.

•  Balanced green space and buildings/hard surfaces.

•   Underground parking.

•   Minimal noise for residents.

•   A skating rink/splash pad.

•   Avoidance of overloading the area.

•   A clear sense of identity.

• Gardens located behind Annie Lathrup School.

• Creative thinking surrounding buildings on site.

•  Blending in with the existing character of Lathrup Village.

The new plan also includes a multistory City Hall and a mixed-use center with updated urban street frontage.

The plan also proposes a new stage and sitting space, a gazebo, a clock tower, an events lawn, a warming shelter and a path along perennial gardens. The plan also suggests moving the Children’s Garden and play area.

After viewing the new plan, residents sat with MML representatives to discuss what they liked and what they disliked. Many residents were concerned with the placement of the Children’s Garden and noise levels that may threaten the residential neighborhoods behind the grounds on California Drive.

Dean Perreman, of Lathrup Village, was concerned about the size of City Hall.

“Four stories seems kind of huge. I think it would be interesting to overlay the existing (layout) on top of this so we can see what is changing and what isn’t,” Perreman said. “It seems like there’s not enough parking to support four stories of the building.”

Rauhe said that the plan is not yet set in stone, and officials will continue to review suggestions from residents. A final report will be held in December, including final design plans with implemented recommendations and alterations based on feedback received at the July 16 meeting.

A PowerPoint presentation detailing the proposed plan can be found at lath rupvillage.org.

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