Construction crews work to ready 24205 Orchard Lake Road for the development of a Sunoco gas station and Tim Hortons drive-thru restaurant.

Construction crews work to ready 24205 Orchard Lake Road for the development of a Sunoco gas station and Tim Hortons drive-thru restaurant.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Farmington Hills gas station receives brownfield plan approval

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published August 25, 2020


FARMINGTON HILLS — A new Sunoco gas station and Tim Hortons drive-thru restaurant development plans to make its way to the corner of 10 Mile and Orchard Lake roads this fall, and Farmington Hills city officials recently approved a brownfield redevelopment plan.

City Council members unanimously approved the brownfield plan for the development at 24205 Orchard Lake Road at their Aug. 10 meeting. The plan was supported by the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority June 30.

Brownfield redevelopment plans allow the city to continue to collect tax increment financing revenue from the property’s current taxable value and allots the additional taxable revenue to be deployed as repayment to the developer for remediation of the site. During redevelopment, soil contamination was found, caused by leakage from the previous underground storage tanks left on-site.

Developer Jay Hammoud is eligible to receive up to $262,418 in reimbursable activities for a period of 27 years, whichever comes first. Capital investment into the site is projected to cost $1.27 million. The development is expected to create 15 construction jobs and 12 permanent jobs.

The city will continue to collect approximately $4,000 in annual property taxes from the site, Farmington Hills Economic Development Director Samantha Seimer said, and the developer will be repaid the difference — about $6,000 a year — until the not-to-exceed amount or the 27-year term limit is reached, though as the property value increases, so will the reimbursement to the developer.

“We’re really excited about that corner being developed. It’s been vacant for over seven years now. Brownfield (plans) are kind of our economic toolkit to clean up sites and get new developments in,” Seimer said, adding that, oftentimes, without approved brownfield plans, these developments would price out the developers.

“It incentivizes the developer to put in a nice, beautiful product at that site, because they’re only repaid if the value of their property increases. It’s beneficial for the city because we continue to capture taxes, as well.”

Taxes captured for the school district will not be abated through the brownfield plan.

“We don’t like to include school taxes just because our schools need as much money as possible. … They’ll continue to capture the immediate growth on that site,” Seimer said.

Hammoud was attracted to the site, despite its environmental issues, because of its proximity to Interstate 696, as well as the overall developmental growth Farmington Hills has seen of late.

“It’s been developing well for the last few years, and the corner itself is a good corner for business,” he said. He hopes the development will be “an inviting business for the neighbors and surrounding community.”

Ryan Higuchi, of PM Environmental, who worked as a consultant on the project, said most of the contaminated soil found will be removed from the site. The rest that remains, he said, will be covered up with concrete or asphalt to “prevent any kind of direct contact.”

“The direct contact in our study was the only really relevant exposure pathway. If we cover anything that’s left there up with concrete, we eliminate that pathway,” he said, adding that studies of the site didn’t show evidence of off-site migration to any nearby residential communities.

With the improvements from the old single-walled storage tanks to new tanks slated for the site, which include pressurized leak detection systems and a backup tank to catch any leaks, a new fuel dispensing system and fueling area canopy, and resurfacing the parking, Higuchi said the site shouldn’t see any other environmental issues down the road, barring anything “catastrophic” happening.

Seimer is anticipating the taxable value of the property to increase to approximately $550,000, with an assumed 1% inflation rate multiplier, from its current value of $272,800. She anticipates the city will see “a large increase (in revenue) after the developer has been reimbursed.”

Contractors have told Hammoud work on the site should be completed by the end of September. Hammoud hopes to open in October.