The old 47th District Court property will be home to 14 new homes through Boji Development Inc.

The old 47th District Court property will be home to 14 new homes through Boji Development Inc.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Old courthouse property redevelopment discussed

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published January 30, 2018

 The old 47th District Court property saw no redevelopment activity for 14 years.

The old 47th District Court property saw no redevelopment activity for 14 years.

File photo by Deb Jacques

FARMINGTON — Redevelopment isn’t a buzzword in Farmington — it’s a way of life. 

Plans to develop 14 single-family homes on the former 47th District Court property were discussed during a Planning Commission public hearing Jan. 8 at Farmington City Hall.

Boji Development Inc. — a Farmington Hills-based company — purchased the former court property after about 14 years of stasis.

Construction of the homes is likely to start in the spring or summer at the more than 3-acre property on 10 Mile Road, east of Farmington Road.

The Farmington City Council approved an offer of $250,000 from Boji Development in a 4-0 vote Oct. 2; Mayor Pro Tem Steven Schneemann recused himself due to a conflict of interest. Schneemann said in an email that his architecture firm, S3 Architecture, had provided some conceptual plans for one of the developers that had made an offer.

Farmington Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said during a phone interview after the Jan. 8 meeting that the Planning Commission had considered the preliminary planned unit development, unanimously approved it and held the required public meeting for it.

Christiansen said the Planning Commission has since forwarded the plan to the City Council for its “review and consideration.”

 The City Council is tentatively scheduled to review and consider the preliminary PUD at its Feb. 5 meeting, he said.

At that meeting, City Council members, in addition to reviewing and considering the PUD, will also draft a PUD agreement for the property, Christiansen said. A final PUD plan would need approval from the Planning Commission.

City officials anticipate that the PUD review and approval process will be completed within the next few months. 

“After the PUD process is completed within the next few months ... then project engineering, permitting and construction (are set) to begin,” Christiansen said.

During the public hearing, Christiansen said that in accordance with the Farmington Downtown Area Plan — which the city adopted in 2015 — the  property’s 3.88 acres give room for potential future redevelopment. The Farmington Downtown Area Plan is a guide that came from findings in the 2013 Farmington Vision Plan, and it’s used for guiding development downtown and in surrounding areas.

“This (redevelopment) could stand on its own. … The goal would be for continuation at some point in time,” Christiansen said.

He added that the proposed redevelopment could attract more redevelopment in the area.

City Engineer Matt Parks said the city looked at that particular property with a critical eye for redevelopment.

“The thing we wanted to look at is ... how it is going to function independently,” he said, adding that he thinks the applicant’s proposed 14 houses will attract other development to the area. “Overall, we didn’t see any deal breakers.”

Farmington resident Donald Schwartz, who lives near the former courthouse, asked during the meeting if there is any asbestos in the former courthouse property or any radon in the ground. 

“One thing you never talked about is tearing down the courthouse. Is there any asbestos in it? Any radon in the ground? If you’re going to disturb the ground with basements in your new developments, you’re going to want to consider getting it tested,” Schwartz said, adding that if radon comes into his house any more than it is now, he will be concerned.

Christiansen said in response that the site itself has had a very thorough series of investigations. 

“The existing almost 15,000-square-foot courthouse property, which has been vacant for almost 14 years now, has been evaluated. That building is to be demolished by (Boji Development) in accordance with the city’s purchase agreement,” Christiansen said.

He added that the purchaser has to obtain a demolition permit through the city.

“Any sort of environmental remediation when they do the demolition — they have to come into the city and … we evaluate the existing conditions and we make sure that permit then lays out what is required as far as the demolition that needs to take place,” Christiansen said. “Until that is done, you can’t redevelop the property.”

The developer is responsible for the demolition of the existing structures on the property.

Boji Development President Francis Boji said in a Sept. 21 letter to city officials that the plan proposes a single-family home community with both ranch- and colonial-style homes.

“Each home will include a full basement and a two-car front entry garage,” Boji said in the letter.

Homes will range from 1,725 square feet to 2,805 square feet, and they will have between two and four bedrooms. The exterior of the homes will feature concrete composite siding and brick, according to the letter. Base pricing for the homes will start in the low $300,000 range, he said.

Two other proposals were submitted by other companies, DS Homes LLC and D.A. Building LLC.

According to the press release, the City Council chose Boji Development because the council felt more confident with Boji’s development plan.

In a press release, City Manager David Murphy said that the redevelopment of the former courthouse property is shaking things up in a positive way.

“We are excited to have this development coming to the city,” Murphy said. “This property has been vacant for about 14 years. It’ll be nice to have it bring more families to our community and school district.”

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