West Bloomfield will be consolidating its classes and activities for senior citizens in a former fur business at Orchard Mall on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield Township.

West Bloomfield will be consolidating its classes and activities for senior citizens in a former fur business at Orchard Mall on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield Township.

Photo by Donna Agusti

West Bloomfield to open senior services location at Orchard Mall

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 26, 2019


WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield Township continues to be a popular destination for senior citizens — so much so that the township board previously had to issue a moratorium on the opening of new senior living facilities there due to an oversaturated market.

Despite that, the township hasn’t had a dedicated space for senior programming, instead spreading its diverse lineup of classes and activities across several locations.

That’s about to change later this year with the opening of a “one-stop shop” for senior services at a dedicated location at Orchard Mall.

Depending on how residents receive this new location, township officials may begin researching the idea of a community center at the civic center campus, one that could offer even more space — provided that the interest is there.

The Orchard Mall location will be at 6335A Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield, in what once was a fur business at the northwest corner of the complex. The three-year lease was secured at what officials described as “a very favorable rental rate” from Orchard Mall: about $41 per month to cover maintenance — which amounts to around $500 per year.

The renovations will cost $141,000 and will add extra bathrooms; flooring and lighting upgrades; and modifications for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. At press time, the township was waiting for building permits to be issued before starting construction.

The leasing deal was approved by the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission during its meeting May 23. The consolidation of senior services at a location occupying 7,200 square feet of retail space follows a strategic plan from 2017 that called for a dedicated space for seniors.

The new location offers convenient parking and easy access to local restaurants and shops in the area of Orchard Lake and Maple roads. Bus transportation will bring seniors to and from the mall for any eligible senior activities or trips, at a cost of $2 each way. Bus transportation can be scheduled by calling (248) 706-2411 once the location opens by the end of the year.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is seeking additional instructors for senior classes. Any space that is left unfilled will be offered as a room rental or will be made available for non-senior classes.

Jennifer Tucker, the executive director of the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission, said that the consolidation plan was informed, in part, by feedback from an eight-person senior advisory team.

“This group looked at what we were providing for seniors and asked what we were missing. That’s when this new location started coming up. We’ve been working with Orchard Mall for over a year now to get this partnership nailed down, but that board was the crux to bring this together, (identifying) that we were missing a place for seniors to go have a cup of coffee and to feel welcome,” Tucker said. “Now they can go to one place instead of figuring out where their class is. This will be one place for seniors to go and congregate. And this lease for three years is at an unbelievable rate, basically just paying for maintenance. Orchard Mall has been an unbelievable community partner — they’re just so invested in the community.”

Currently, senior activities take place at Marshbank Park, 2805 Hiller Road; Drake Sports Park, 6801 Drake Road; and the Recreation Activities Center, 4640 Walnut Lake Road. One major program — the township’s free “Stretch and Tone” class — is offered in a room rented at Temple Israel, 5725 Walnut Lake Road.

Kelly Hyer, the recreation superintendent for the West Bloomfield Parks  and Recreation Commission, said in a statement that the reason there are so many locations is that facility availability is limited.

“This new space (at Orchard Mall) will condense that and allow multiple programs to be hosted in one location, making it easier for seniors to plan and travel to their activities,” Hyer said. “Seniors will also be able to drop in and hang out in the casual gathering space, as well as register for any events, classes, activities or trips in the extended West Bloomfield Parks Office.”

In a phone interview, she explained that the new location’s reception could lead to the creation of a community center that would feature even more expansive offerings.

“One idea is to complete the original building vision that the (Parks  and Recreation) Commission had, which was to build a community center with more spaces and more breakout rooms, which would be where our administrative offices are now in our civic center campus, which is the 80 acres around Town Hall (located at 4550 Walnut Lake Road),” Hyer said. “This Orchard Mall location will allow us to measure the interest of our residents. We’re trying to make the new space very welcoming and attractive by putting all our senior services there. This will be our test case to see what people want, and then that gives us further time to plan for once our lease (at Orchard Mall) runs out.”

Added Tucker: “Personally, I think the Orchard Mall location will be fantastic and that people will love it. But this is just the first step to figure out what we have to do next, and what the taxpayers want to see.”