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Conceptual design of Orchard Lake, 10 Mile revealed

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 24, 2015

 Denise Hurd, of Farmington Hills, looks at a set of plans June 17 during a PlacePlans open house at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Denise Hurd, of Farmington Hills, looks at a set of plans June 17 during a PlacePlans open house at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Photo by Sean Work

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Residents’ visions for redevelopment at Orchard Lake and 10 Mile roads came to life during an open house June 17 at Farmington Hills City Hall.


Residents, city staff and representatives from the Michigan Municipal League and Lawrence Technological University were asked to help reimagine the Farmington and Farmington Hills area of Orchard Lake and 10 Mile through a survey sent to businesses and residents, as well as a design session. Many stakeholders were interested in pedestrian- and bike-friendly paths.


Farmington Hills and Farmington are among a group of Michigan cities chosen through the MML’s PlacePlans program to receive technical assistance in attracting and retaining residents and employers. The community will have help in coordinating a design plan for the 10 Mile and Orchard Lake area through a joint effort between the MML and Michigan State University.


During the open house, dozens of residents looked at a design of the Orchard Lake and 10 Mile area and a design book explaining the community-created concept.


Some of the concepts included a gourmet grocery shop/café, a 10-foot shared walk/bike path, paved crosswalks, bike parking, picnic benches, streetlights at intervals, and public art installations.


Farmington Hills resident Bruce Fowler said during the event that the project looks like an exciting opportunity for the major intersection.


As a certified urban planner, he has a professional interest in the project.


“I have lived here for 20 years. There is definitely a benefit to (renovating),” he said. “They’re working with the existing buildings and businesses and maximizing what they can do without tearing buildings down.”


Farmington Hills couple Tim and Kathy Crabb, who live within walking distance of the intersection, said they would like to see sidewalks that continue and don’t come to a halt, and “anything that greens up” the intersection.


“Right now when you go through that intersection … there is nothing nice to look at,” Tim Crabb said. “It is nice that it seems to be one of the things that they are going for.”


Kathy Crabb said freshening up the storefronts and a more inviting shopping area would be ideal, because currently there is nothing to go to, she said.


PlacePlans is supported by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Gov. Rick Snyder’s MIplace Partnership, according to a press release.


The team from LTU spent a few months studying the existing conditions of the intersection and the neighborhoods that surround it, according to a press release.


Because the project is in its early stages, there is no budget.


LTU graduate student Dustin Altschul said the plan was designed as a reaction to what the public wanted and “what would be a value to the community.”


“Increased walkability was another big issue by the survey,” Altschul said during the meeting.


“People don’t feel safe walking in this area. … Part of this plan calls for (the) addition of pedestrian amenities.”


He added that this is a recommendation to be included in the city’s master plan.


Joongsub Kim, of LTU, said that using the design to promote dialogue between the cities is key.


“What is going to happen after this process has a lot to do with how the cities are going to implement (the process),” he said.


Nate Geinzer, assistant to the city manager in Farmington Hills, said during the event that the design features come exactly from the communities’ ideas.


“That is not my plan. That is not Dustin’s plan. That is not Dr. Kim’s plan, not MML’s plan,” he said. “That all comes from the feedback we got from the people. This isn’t just a big-box corridor. … This has been part of both communities’ strategies to revitalize the community.”


Dan Irvin, executive director of the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, said that from a business perspective, the goal of PlacePlans is to bring awareness that the city is being proactive in trying to find, attract and retain businesses at the 10 Mile/Orchard Lake corridor.


“How do we attract maybe national retailers to this area? That is what I stepped up and volunteered to help for,” Irvin said.


For more information about the 10 Mile and Orchard Lake PlacePlans project, contact Geinzer at (248) 871-2507 or  at ngeinzer@fhgov.com, or contact Christiansen at (248) 474-5500, ext. 2226, or at kchristiansen@ci.farmington.mi.us.