Hotel development to feature trail connection, historical home renovation in Farmington Hills

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published April 2, 2019

FARMINGTON HILLS — After two years of planning, proposals and negotiating between city officials and M2B2 LLC, a WoodSpring Suites hotel plans to make its way to Farmington Hills by the end of summer 2020.

The City Council voted 5-2 to approve a planned unit development for 22000 Haggerty Road, which is set to include a four-story, 122-room, extended stay hotel, the restoration of the historical David Simmons house currently on the property, and parking and pedestrian access to the Hills 275 bike path located along I-275.

Councilwoman Valerie Knol, among others on the council, expressed support for the project because of its promise to fully restore a “historic house that was in horrible condition.”

“This was kind of a win-win situation in order to actually find a way to redevelop that property,” Knol said at the March 25 City Council meeting. “Not only can we save the historic house, additionally, you’re redeveloping the rest of the site with a hotel that will generate tax revenue and provide a valuable service to the citizens of this community.”

Despite the challenges the city faced in attempting to sell this piece of land, mainly due to the dilapidated David Simmons house, Mike Huszti, a project manager for M2B2 LLC, said he’s always seen the historical home as an opportunity rather than an obstacle in his way of development.

“One of the big items for the city was preserving the historic home, so we looked at numerous different alternatives on how to handle that,” said Huszti. Ultimately, he decided that once restoration of the house was complete, he would convert the historical landmark from a single-family home to an office space that he hopes to rent out separately from the hotel.

Overall, the project is estimated to cost M2B2 LLC approximately $10 million for construction of the WoodSpring Suites hotel, full restoration of the historical house, and building the infrastructure — such as a picnic shelter, water lines and pillars for signage — for the Hills 275 bike path trailhead. The city’s Special Services Department also plans to contribute approximately $25,000 to the bike trail in order to furnish it with amenities such as picnic tables, drinking stations, signage and a kiosk.

The hotel is slated for an approximately 1.5-acre parcel with an office research district zoning.

While a majority of council members, and other city officials involved in the project, said this is a fair compromise between the two groups, Councilman Richard Lerner and Councilman Michael Bridges, who both voted against the development project, disagree with having the city contribute funds to any portion of the project. Lerner explained that he doesn’t believe M2B2 LLC is significantly contributing to the public benefit of the project as much as the city is.

“We watch every nickel and dime,” said Lerner. “$25,000 is a good chunk out of the Parks and Recreation Department budget, (and) it was my opinion that we should have negotiated that better when talking about this PUD.”

Although Lerner doesn’t disagree with the development as a whole, he said he believes that if M2B2 LLC plans to spend millions of dollars on it already, the company could more comfortably front the full bill for the bike trail as well.

Bryan Farmer, the deputy director of special services, and the council members voting in the majority said government grants and the project’s potential tax revenue will help alleviate the financial portion provided by the city, though Lerner expressed doubt that the city will be approved for any grants due to the perceived affluence of Farmington Hills.

With the project now approved by the City Council, Huszti said the next step is to wait for building permits for both the hotel and the historical house before they can begin construction on the site. Huszti hopes to start construction on both buildings this summer in order to open their doors to the public by summer 2020.

“I think this project was a success for the Historic District Commission and, for that matter, the residents of Farmington Hills,” said Ken Klemmer, the chair of the Farmington Hills Historic District Commission. “They still get to see a little bit of the past when they drive down Haggerty Road and be reminded of our farming heritage in the area. I think it was a great thing for everybody.”

Built in 1843 by David Simmons, a relative of the pioneer Simmons family of Livonia, the David Simmons house is a Greek Revival house with a stone foundation, hand-hewn timbers and pegged construction, according to the Historic District Commission.

An addition was made to the house by incorporating a carriage house as the south wing. This house is listed on the Michigan State Registry of Historical Places.