Development company looks to build rental, commercial units along Livernois

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published April 29, 2015

 Nextus Capital is hoping to build three rental properties on the west side of Livernois Street and north of Eight Mile Road in Ferndale that would include 30 rental units and commercial space on the ground floors.

Nextus Capital is hoping to build three rental properties on the west side of Livernois Street and north of Eight Mile Road in Ferndale that would include 30 rental units and commercial space on the ground floors.

Photo provided by DesignTeam+

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FERNDALE — A proposed development on city and private land just north of Eight Mile Road on Livernois Street in Ferndale could bring more rental opportunities for the city, as well as new commercial space.

The city owns two noncontiguous parcels of land on the west side of Livernois that are separated by a privately owned piece of land that was used as a single-family residence in the past. However, Nextus Capital has a purchase agreement in place for the private land and is hoping to purchase city-owned land to build three rental buildings.

Nextus Capital, DesignTeam+ and Community and Economic Development Director Derek Delacourt presented the initial plans, called 8 North, to City Council on April 13 to gauge the interest of the team in moving forward with the project.

“We were approached not too long ago by the design team, and they had purchased the property in between the city’s property and wanted to see what the city wanted developed on those parcels,” Delacourt said. “They developed a plan that fits in the city’s master land use plan and plans for the Livernois corridor. They presented to the Planning Commission and it was very well received, and they are just looking for additional input from council.”

The plans have Nextus Capital building three buildings totaling about 50,000 square feet on the space, with 10 rental units in each building. Each building would also have commercial space on the main floor with parking in the back, as well as a shared space for tenants on the top floor with a rooftop garden.

Ralph Nunez, the principal landscape architect with DesignTeam+, said the lots are ideal for a mixed-use development, and the vegetation around it would shield neighboring homes from the five-story building.

“The residential lots are some of the largest and deepest lots in the city, so that is advantageous for what we are proposing,” Nunez said. “We did a number of studies on the proposed buildings and being concerned about residents’ single-family homes in the rear, but there are a lot of large trees in their backyards and ours that the landscape would provide a buffer between both parties.”

Councilwoman Melanie Piana brought up that the city would like to find ways to provide affordable housing in the city for those who need it, but Paul Motley, a managing partner with Nextus Capital, said he couldn’t give an exact price range for the units at this point.

The goal, Motley said, is to develop plans that include units between 900 and 1,300 square feet. While the prices for rentals around Ferndale are going up, Motley said they hope to keep the rental prices down, but still a little higher than the current average in the city.

“The local area has a 97 percent occupancy rate and rentals are going for about $2.05 a square foot, but you are looking at $1.56 per square foot for rentals in Ferndale,” he said. “We are still in the process of establishing a budget, but we are looking for somewhere in between there. At $2 a square foot, it would be on the high end, but we are targeting to be between $1.65 and $1.70 a square foot.”

In recent years, Delacourt said Ferndale has lacked rental options for the young and old, and a development like the one proposed by Nextus Capital would help fill that gap.

“We have known for quite some time that Ferndale has a notable gap in housing for 18-30-year- olds and again from 55-75,” he said. “We have an extreme shortage for both students and young professionals getting started and people aging in place who want to turn around their single-family home. This fills in that niche in price and design.”

Going forward, the team will put together more concrete plans after receiving positive feedback from council, and will look to meet with neighbors who live in the area to get their input on a potential development.

Piana said she feels the development is exactly what the area needs and what the city as a whole needs.

“I think this project is full of win and would look great in the neighborhood,” she said. “There is a pent-up demand for rentals, and this helps us satisfy that and hit the bookends of the demographic.”

In recent years, the city has developed Livernois to make it more accessible to all modes of transportation, as well as easier to traverse and park. Mayor Dave Coulter said he feels the proposed project would fit in perfectly on Livernois.

“The south Livernois corridor area is an area we have put attention at, and this fits along the lines with what we are trying to put there,” he said. “We hope to continue to upgrade and redevelop that area, and this would be a great complement to that.”

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