Council approves rezoning for proposed condominium development

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published December 23, 2015


FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale continued to take steps to repurpose the former American Legion building at 1741 Livernois St., right off West Nine Mile Road, as the City Council approved rezoning the property during the council’s Dec. 14 meeting.

In September, the city approved a purchasing agreement with Otis Property Group that would see the building turned into 10 condominium units, along with garages and parking spaces, for a price of $275,000.

Part of the agreement required the property to be rezoned within 120 days. The property was previously zoned as single-family residential; following the council meeting, the property will be zoned multifamily residential.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing during its November meeting and recommended the rezoning to council.

“Part of the proposed conceptual plans include the adapted reuse of the existing building to a multi-unit condominium development,” Community and Economic Development Director Derek Delacourt said. “The zoning in place does not support a commercial building or a multifamily residential building, so prior to closing, we need to look at rezoning. All the processes were followed, and the Planning Commision did recommend the rezoning.”

The city for years used the former American Legion building as storage before the sale. The city received eight offers ranging from $150,000 to $275,000, and the city felt that the concept of adaptive reuse of the existing building was the best move.

Plans had ranged in use, but the review team in September informed the council that the team preferred residential use, as it would have the least impact on the surrounding residential properties.

The purchasing agreement also included a condition that the purchasing group provide an irrevocable ingress/egress easement across the south side of the property to allow continued access to the Ferndale Historical Museum, which is located just south of the property.

“I am glad we are moving one step closer to redeveloping that property,” Councilman Greg Pawlica said. “It has been vacant for a number of years, and I am really excited as we move forward with it.”

Over the past year, the city has had an influx of proposed residential apartment and condominium units, ranging from a building on Livernois near Eight Mile Road to a structure on West Nine Mile near Planavon Street.

The proposed plan for the former American Legion building would see five condos on the first floor and five on the second floor, with a garage for each condo behind it for a total of 10 garages. The condos would be two-bedroom, one-bathroom units with a living space and room for a washer and dryer.

Because plans are not final for the proposed project, Mayor Dave Coulter questioned whether moving forward with the rezoning was what the city would do no matter the agreement, but Delacourt assured the council that rezoning was the right move.

“The existing zoning is the most inappropriate one,” Delacourt said. “It only allows single-family residential, which it has never been and most likely never will be without removal of the existing building.”

With several agenda items this year involving rezoning, Councilwoman Melanie Piana said she is thankful that developers work with the city to overcome the issues and that it is more proof of the importance of an updated master plan.

The city currently is in the process of updating the plan.

“I just want to reiterate what I always do when rezoning comes to council, and that is when you do this many rezonings, it just says your master plan needs to be updated,” she said. “While we are in that process, I expect we will have a few more come down this pipeline before we are able to update the zoning ordinance to reflect this. I appreciate new property owners coming in and being flexible and working with us.”