Officials from Grosse Pointe Park, Stuckey Vitale Architects and Roncelli Inc. celebrate the start of construction on the Park’s new Department of  Public Works building with a  groundbreaking Oct. 27.

Officials from Grosse Pointe Park, Stuckey Vitale Architects and Roncelli Inc. celebrate the start of construction on the Park’s new Department of Public Works building with a groundbreaking Oct. 27.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

New DPW under construction in Grosse Pointe Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 16, 2021


GROSSE POINTE PARK — Motorists who’ve traveled past the corner of Mack Avenue and Wayburn Street lately might have noticed more activity than usual on that corner.

That’s because work has started on Grosse Pointe Park’s new Department of Public Works building. Ground was broken on the site Oct. 27. City officials and representatives of Stuckey Vitale Architects and the project builder, Roncelli Inc., were on hand to mark the start of work on a project that has been under discussion for years.

The roughly $4 million project will be paid for with a 15-year bond using money raised by the Tax Increment Financing Authority, or TIFA, City Manager Nick Sizeland said.

“This won’t raise any taxes,” Sizeland said. “There’s no special assessment.”

Mayor Robert Denner said it was TIFA that sold the bond for the building.

“Because this (property) is in our TIFA district, TIFA was able to be the financing mechanism for the building,” Denner said.

Denner said the alley between Wayburn and Maryland streets will remain open even with this project.

The site was once home to iconic businesses in the community, including the original Tom’s Oyster Bar and Grumpy’s Pub, Denner said. Most recently, it was occupied by Verdonckt’s Franco Belge Bakery, which had an address of 15046 Mack Ave.

“Over a period of many years, the city, with the help of the TIFA, assembled this property with the intention of redevelopment,” Denner said.

A parcel adjacent to the new DPW site now has a Huntington Bank, which Denner said the city is “very happy” with. He said the redevelopment on the city’s Detroit border is aimed at enhancing the area for both cities.

The current DPW, adjacent to City Hall, was formerly the Ted Ewald Chevrolet dealership, DPW Supervisor Pat Thomas said. It’s 17,000 square feet — about the same size that the new building will be — but the layout will be much improved. Now, he said, vehicles can only drive straight in or out of the building, with only a few inches of space on either side of them, meaning that DPW drivers need to be extremely sharp to not end up sheering off a side mirror.

“The mirrors were practically touching the sides” of the garage door, Thomas said.

In the new building, Thomas said, they’ll be able to turn and otherwise maneuver vehicles, as well as get in from every angle. They’ll be able to repair vehicles easily, too.

“We wanted to make sure every square foot was functional and would fit a purpose,” Sizeland said.

In addition, city officials say the new building will enable the DPW to consolidate operations, equipment and functions under one roof. Workers currently need to shuttle among different sites now.

City leaders said they wanted something more appealing than the standard, plain and industrial-looking DPW building.

“When this was first conceptualized … (we said) it really needs to be nice and aesthetically pleasing and good for the neighborhood,” City Councilman James Robson said. “It’s going to be a boon for their community and Grosse Pointe Park.”

John Vitale, president of Stuckey Vitale, said they’re using masonry stone and all traditional materials for the building.

“We wanted to be very careful about the façade on Mack Avenue, so it blends in with the (local) architecture and the community,” said Vitale, himself a Grosse Pointer.

Denner concurred.

“It’s basically a brick and limestone look, with the appearance of a lot of windows,” Denner said. “It should blend very well with the architecture of the area.”

The new building is expected to open by late spring or early summer 2022, Sizeland said.

He said utility work was starting first.

Mike Kamlay, the project manager for Roncelli, said they hoped to get the foundation started before snow began sticking and the ground froze. He said the building won’t have a basement.

Although, at a height of 27 feet, the building will appear to be two stories, Kamlay said it will only have a mezzanine, not a full second floor. The mezzanine will be used to store water meters and other equipment, he said.

Denner said the old DPW will eventually become part of the forthcoming new art center parcel.