Cauley Ferrari and Town Court apartments are located within West Bloomfield’s Township Center District Overlay area.

Cauley Ferrari and Town Court apartments are located within West Bloomfield’s Township Center District Overlay area.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


West Bloomfield's Township Center District Overlay making ‘slow but steady’ progress

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 8, 2021

 West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan expects Town Court apartments to be a “boon to our businesses.”

West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan expects Town Court apartments to be a “boon to our businesses.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — In 2015, the West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees created what is known as the Township Center District Overlay on Orchard Lake Road, from 14 Mile Road to about a quarter mile north of Maple Road, according to Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan.

More than five years after its implementation, Kaplan described the progress of the overlay district as “slow but steady.”

He cleared up what it is not meant to look like.

“The idea here is not to create a downtown area like Berkley, Birmingham, Royal Oak or Ferndale,” Kaplan said. “We’re not emulating or copying, but we’re trying to revitalize the area because that’s the gateway into the township.”

What Kaplan would like for the overlay district to be is “eye-catching” and “impactful,” and to feature “uniform development over the entire corridor.”

He added that West Bloomfield limits buildings and residences to three stories, with the exception of the overlay district, in which developments are permitted to be up to five stories.

For those who want to develop in that area, things like monuments, artwork and benches could be required.

“The idea is to make it pedestrian friendly and give it a downtown feel,” Kaplan said.

He cited the Town Court apartments as the kind of development the township is aiming for.

The apartments are located on Orchard Lake Road, north of 14 Mile Road, and Kaplan expects the development will be a “boon to our businesses.”

Property manager Cheyenne Zaremba said Town Court had its first move-ins at the end of June.

“We have a lot of different floor plans to choose from,” she said. “We are a luxurious community.”

Kaplan said Town Court, a four-story building with 192 units, is the first new apartment building in West Bloomfield since 1974.

“There are amenities that attract younger residents, like computer rooms, a lobby area on the third floor, right outside the pool, where somebody can host a party. … For a youngster, it might remind (them) of a dormitory, but a nice dormitory,” he said. “We’re aiming to attract all age groups, but especially the millennials. … That’s age group 29 to 40.”

Prior to the development of Town Court, Kaplan said, the Hampton Inn, a four-story hotel that opened in 2017, became the first hotel in West Bloomfield.

It is located at 14 Mile Road and Northwestern Highway, near Orchard Lake Road.

After that came Home 2 Suites, a five-story hotel that opened in 2019 in the same complex as the Hampton Inn, according to Kaplan.

Kaplan also provided an update about what could be in the works for a building that previously housed the old Barnes & Noble, located between 14 Mile and Maple roads, on the west side of Orchard Lake Road, prior to the bookstore closing in 2016.

“It’s a nice building, and we have a proposed development there. It’ll be like a Mediterranean market, an open market where you can buy products in bulk,” he said. “The younger generation, but I think even (the) older generation, likes the idea of a market where you can buy fresh food, fresh produce. … It hasn’t been finalized, but it’s in progress. … We’re confident that development, that Barnes & Noble building, will become a market, and it’ll have one or two restaurants attached.”

Restaurants that stay open late and offer a nightlife, along with an overlay district that has “walkability,” are other elements that could appeal to the township board.

Kaplan said that the Orchard Lake Road boulevard is also “part of the plan.”

“The Orchard Lake boulevard, which was completed in 2017, is a major factor because the businesses are attracted by that boulevard, which extends nine-tenths of a mile, from 14 Mile to just south of Maple,” he said. “But the boulevard — we have growing trees, plants, (and) a nice monument at the entrance.”

Kaplan said that Jeff Cauley Ferrari, which is located near Town Court, was built in the last four years and is the only Ferrari dealership in Michigan.

As for how many more businesses may be forthcoming, Kaplan is not certain of a time frame.

“It’s continual, because perhaps current business will be sold, and we’re not racing to demolish or force anybody to sell their business,” he said. “But over time, you might need new businesses.”

Kaplan discussed the kind of look the township wants for its overlay district.

“Businesses and buildings that have an artistic bent, that promote (the) environment by nice landscaping,” he said. “We do not allow parking in the front of the buildings, and the reason being is we don’t want motorists visiting West Bloomfield (or) the pedestrians to see a sea of cars. So if you want to build or construct a new building, or renovate a building, you, as the owner, will need to have parking on the side or the back of the building, not in the front of the building. That way the businesses are closer to the road and you don’t see an avalanche of vehicles.”

West Bloomfield Planning and Development Services Director Amy Neary weighed in on what she would like for the overlay district.

“My goal is the same as the goal of the Town Center District, which is to have (a) mixture of usage and create more of a place that people not only (want to) go and shop, but go and live,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some more entertainment uses in that area, as well.”

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a “green building certification program used worldwide,” and it is something else that Neary has given some thought to.

She said that any building more than three stories has to be designed to LEED standard.

“West Bloomfield is an environmentally sensitive community,” Neary said. “For years, we have had regulations that protect our wetlands and our woodland areas. One of the other things is looking to have more sustainable development, in terms of how our projects are developed and in terms of being more environmentally sustainable.”

There could be an incentive for developers to bring their business to West Bloomfield via what Kaplan referred to as the “brownfield concept,” which can be utilized if a business owner wants to build on a site in which the ground has been previously contaminated.

“Let’s say it had been a car dealership or auto repair center. So, obviously, you have fluids, oil, gasoline, which have contaminated the soil,” he said. “The brownfield doctorate, it’s a state statute implemented through the county, it’s an option for municipalities where we can enter into an agreement with the new property owner, or it could be the old property owner, to offer financial incentives, tax incentives, to decontaminate the land.”

Kaplan said the township has its first brownfield proposal for a location that is currently called Performance Auto, which is north of Jeff Cauley Ferrari, on the west side of Orchard Lake Road.

He said the proposal is for construction of a five-story upper-scale apartment building, which would have “all kinds of amenities.”

According to Kaplan, “The board is considering whether to bring in brownfield status,” and it could take two meetings to decide the issue.

He understands what having a developed downtown area can do for a community.

“Residents desire it. It attracts new residents, it attracts other businesses and it enhances the viability of residing in a municipality,” Kaplan said. “When you have a vibrant, exciting, new, environmentally sound, so-called downtown area, it’s attractive to people because many residents want to stay within the community for dining purposes (and) socializing. They’d rather stay in the area than drive 10 miles or 15 miles.”

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