Birmingham-based developer Kojaian is proposing a mixed-use planned unit development at the corner of Long Lake and Crooks roads.

Birmingham-based developer Kojaian is proposing a mixed-use planned unit development at the corner of Long Lake and Crooks roads.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Developer seeks maximum flexibility for Long Lake, Crooks roads development

Office space, hotel, restaurant, retail slated for 24-acre parcel

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published February 24, 2021

 A rendering of the proposed planned unit development at the corner of Long Lake and Crooks roads.

A rendering of the proposed planned unit development at the corner of Long Lake and Crooks roads.

Photo provided by Kojaian

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TROY — A Birmingham-based developer, Kojaian, is seeking the maximum flexibility from Troy planning commissioners for a mixed-use planned unit development on the corner of Long Lake and Crooks roads.

Kojaian Executive Vice President Tony Antone said the 24.08-acre site is being proposed as a mixed use for an office headquarters, a hotel, restaurants and retailers, and other public amenities. The site has never been developed.

Current conceptual designs for the site show two six- to eight-story-tall office buildings that sit on roughly 500,000 square feet together; two parking garages with roughly 2,500 parking stalls combined; a five-story hotel and restaurant; three other 9,000-square-foot restaurant and retail spaces; and public amenities such as a pedestrian boulevard and a water feature.

Antone and company are still in the conceptual phases of the PUD process with planning commissioners, but they’ve asked for flexibility from the commission members due to potentially changing demands over the development’s build-out.

The development, if approved by the city, would take an estimated 10-20 years to build, Ben Carlisle of Carlisle, Wortman and Associates, the city’s planning consultant, said.

“We’re trying to give ourselves maximum flexibility, because we really don’t want to take this to the market until we know what the city’s pleasure is with it,” Antone said. “We think we have it right, but of course we want to do this in partnership with you all.”

Kojaian developed the PNC Center, the Top of Troy building, 900 Tower Drive, the Flagstar headquarters, the Troy Corporate Center and more. “We’ve been around quite a bit through the city of Troy, and we’re excited to embark upon what we’re calling the gateway to north Troy,” he added.

A proposed development of this size isn’t perfect after the first draft. Planning commissioners spent roughly an hour with Antone and his team during the Planning Commission meeting Jan. 12 discussing their concerns with the project as it stands.

While many of the commissioners shared excitement overall for developing in north Troy, as encouraged by the city’s master plan, they noted concerns about pedestrian accessibility and amenities; the lack of residential uses; the amount of green space and nature currently preserved; the buildings’ height and density; and the placement of the water feature.

Commissioners Dave Lambert and Michael Hudson expressed a desire to see multifamily residences built into the proposed design. Antone said multifamily use was presented in the initial PUD draft, though not in the site’s conceptual design. “Our intention is to take this out to the multifamily market as well as the office market,” he said.

Commissioner Marianna Perakis first believed the site wasn’t best suited for any residential use; however, after commissioners shared their thoughts, she acknowledged the feasibility. “Residential can work, but it has to fit with the plan,” she said.

Concerns about a lack of pedestrian accessibility, leisure activities and natural green space came from Commissioners Jayalakshmi Malalahalli and Perakis.

“After COVID-19, I know we all understand that outdoor spaces have become very precious to all of us. Outdoor seating, gathering and eating areas have become very important. I think Troy needs to have that ambiance created, so people can come walk, sit, enjoy leisure and engage in conversations,” Malalahalli said. “It should be an area which people get attracted to. That’s what I would love to see in a project of this magnitude.”

Both commissioners expressed their desire to see the proposed developments become a destination for those living, working and/or looking for a bit of leisure in Troy.

“Our approach is, depending on how this development ultimately comes about, that we would definitely try to preserve as much of the green space as physically possible, but also balancing between what is ultimately shrubbery and lower quality species and what will be the site amenities that we’ll provide in the development itself,” Detroit-based Gensler architect Chris Beck said.

The majority of commissioners expressed opposition to placing a proposed water feature at the corner of the parcel, stating instead they would rather see the water feature placed in the center of the development as a centerpiece for visitors. Commissioner Sadek Rahman suggested an outdoor entertainment space rather than a water feature.

“By circumstances of site logistics, that area really wants to be water,” Antone said. “We could certainly jazz it up and put seating around it with a fountain, do those sorts of things, and I think based on the other comments, we’ll look at a secondary area more centralized in the site that would maybe not be wet.”

Antone wasn’t worried as much about the site’s amenities, green space and water features, however, as much as he wanted to know what his limitations were with the commission on building height and density.

While some commissioners wanted to see building heights capped at five stories, with Hudson stating most neighboring office buildings to the site are only four stories or fewer, others like Planning Commission Chair Tom Krent said he’s not opposed to eight to 10 stories for a building, depending on where it sits on the site itself.

Planning Commissioners Jerry Rauch and Hudson aren’t as concerned with building heights as much as whether more office buildings are needed in Troy at all. Hudson said Troy is in an “office glut” right now, with too many already. Rauch agreed.

“My personal concern is that the (office) space we have in Troy, with this much currently vacant, and the likelihood of having more sublease and nonrenewals coming on the market, that we’re going to have to be looking to repurpose office buildings in Troy,” Rauch said. “It makes me wonder whether offices like this would make sense.”

Antone said the vision for these offices would not be rental-based. Instead, his company would be looking to secure a large international company looking to invest in a headquarters in southeast Michigan. Savidant said there’s currently only two vacant sites in the city, including this parcel, that could hold an office headquarters.

“We are never going to build these office buildings speculatively. That is never our intention. We won’t do it. It would be foolish,” Antone said. “And we’re also not living only in the COVID moment. This is a decade’s worth of work that’s going to be ahead of us on this site if we do it right.”

As discussions of the site began to wrap up, Savidant reminded the planning commissioners that this was a chance to be bold and create a sense of place in north Troy. Krent believes Kojaian’s credentials are the right ones for the job.

“I’m excited about what’s going to happen here. You’ve got the right piece of dirt to work with, and I’m just waiting for your next presentation, utilizing maybe some of our thoughts,” Krent said. “I can’t wait to see the excitement you guys generate on that piece of land.”

For more information, visit troymi.gov.

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