OHM presents final plan, next steps for Northland Center

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published October 4, 2016

 Construction has begun at the site, which officials say will take some time to complete.

Construction has begun at the site, which officials say will take some time to complete.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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SOUTHFIELD — It was months in the making, but OHM Advisors — the firm selected to develop a conceptual, market-driven master redevelopment plan for Northland Center, 21500 Northwestern Highway —  recently presented the final master plan for the site.

At the Sept. 26 Southfield City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved the plan.

A week prior, at a Sept. 19 Committee of the Whole meeting, representatives from OHM presented the final master plan to council.
Aaron Domini, senior planner and partner at OHM, gave the presentation.

“I know you’ve seen a lot of our team around in the last couple months, not only in formal meetings, but out in the community and the newspapers,” Domini said. “This is kind of the culmination of all that work we’ve done over the last couple months.”

Domini discussed the findings from an Aug. 23 public input session, where residents were invited to view a draft of the plan and provide their input.

The main goal of the plan, Domini said, is to make the site a destination again.

“No. 1 is to establish that iconic local and regional destination, and part of our charge was to rethink how it can be that great place again,” Domini said. “Public space, public space, public space was at the center of our discussion.  It’s a place for the community, and we wanted to keep that theme.”

Around 100 people attended the public meeting in August to give their input, Domini said, and there have been over 4,000 views on the project’s website, imaginenorthland.com.

The massive plan includes a wheel concept — a radiating pattern of five districts stemming from a central green space, and which will utilize the underground tunnels that run beneath the mall.

The five districts — dubbed shopping, lifestyle, central park, innovation and park — are part of a larger concept of mixed-use development at the site. Major plans for the districts include walkable and safe apartments, student and senior housing, a hotel, medical offices, green space, public space, miscellaneous offices, and retail space.

Plans also include salvaging the J.L. Hudson building, more recently known as Macy’s.

Participants at the visioning session were asked what they liked about the plan and what they would wish to change.

“Things people liked best were the water feature, mixed use, green spaces, pedestrian walking and biking options, a downtown spirit,” Domini told the council. “These are the things you asked us to look at from the beginning, so the public told us we did that right.”

Every single one of the things that residents said they wished to see in the plan — like a recreation center, a police station, a variety of dining options and age-in-place housing options — was actually already included in the plan, Domini said.

“Every single one of those things were captured in the design, but probably didn’t ring through to a lot of the folks that attended,” he said.
Looking forward, Domini said, the city will put out a request for quotations to local brokers.

Tom Carter, a mixed-use development advisor with Real Estate Development Advisors, said the plan should create a buzz in the market. 

“Obviously, the reason why all this work has been done is so that we can imagine the possibilities of this property and capture the vision, and then really (the) next steps are to get the market excited,” Carter said at the meeting. “Given the magnitude of this thing, you really need to get a large, local brokerage firm engaged.”

The plans can be viewed at imaginenorthland.com.

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