Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett arrives in a classic car to the State of the City address in the Brooklands.

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett arrives in a classic car to the State of the City address in the Brooklands.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Rochester Hills State of the City address centers on oldest neighborhood

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 7, 2022


ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett’s State of the City addresses are anything but ordinary, and this year was no exception.

“We love to have crazy, fun, exciting, different kinds of shows for our residents,” Barnett said. “We always want to push ourselves to do something different.”

This year, Barnett was ushered down Auburn Road by the Rochester High School Falcons marching band before taking to the stage in the historic Brooklands neighborhood.

The speech, given Aug. 17, was held in the recently redesigned Auburn Road corridor to highlight the multimillion dollar investment in the city’s oldest neighborhood over the last several years.

The $12 million project completely reconstructed Auburn Road into what officials are calling a vibrant, main street-style district with improved pedestrian facilities, new sidewalks, streetscape enhancements, a center median, two roundabouts, on-street parking, the city’s first public parking lot, a splash pad and more.

“We specifically chose this place for a reason. The Brooklands may be our oldest neighborhood — it is the oldest neighborhood in the city — but thanks to the significant investment we put in, it has the newest and coolest vibe,” said Barnett.

The investment is already paying off. The Michigan Municipal League honored the redevelopment with its Community Excellence Award in 2021, and Barnett said the project has made a significant impact on property values.

“The taxable value, the values of the properties in the Brooklands have risen at a rate 40% higher than the rest of the city,” he noted. “It shows this investment that we made is paying off for the residents and businesses down here who needed it and deserve it the most.”

And that’s just one area of the city.

Barnett highlighted the fact that the city of Rochester Hills was recently recognized as one of the Top 25 Places to Live in the United States, and the safest city in Michigan among cities with more than 70,000 residents for the sixth consecutive year.

“It doesn’t take much to drive around this town and see some of the things we’re proud of — our parks and natural resources, our vibrant business community, our top-ranked school districts and universities, our dedication to appreciating the past, and the value we have for protecting the environment,” Barnett said. “All of these things are truly the envy of so many communities around us here in southeast Michigan.”

Some other bragging points in the mayor’s speech included that the city has not raised its millage rate in eight years, the average residential sale price for a home has increased 73% over the last decade, the city has spent more than $50 million improving roads over the last four years, and it has provided over 2,000 free trees to residents over the last three years.

In 2021, Rochester Hills parks had more than 1.2 million visitors, according to Barnett, who noted that the playground at Innovation Hills was named “Project of the Year” from the Michigan chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Near the end of his speech, Mayor Barnett presented Rochester University coaching legend Garth Pleasant with the 2022 Rochester Hills Community Excellence Award for his “countless contributions to the community and the impact he has had on the lives of many.”

Following the speech, visitors filled Auburn Road to enjoy live music, inflatables, entertainment, free food from local eateries and a fireworks show to close the night.

Cheryl and Mike Guelette, who live in the Brooklands neighborhood, said this was the first State of the City address they have attended — because they could walk to it this year.

“I thought it was very good. … I’m glad I came. It was very informative,” Cheryl Guelette said of the address.

The couple, who have lived in the Brooklands since 1977, said they also enjoy the newly updated Auburn Road corridor.

“I think it’s great. It slows down traffic and it brings people down through here more,” said Mike Guelette.

The entire address can be watched online on Rochester Hills TV at HillsTV.