DDA Looks at 'Woodward Grand' Concept and Others for I-696 Site

The concept is one of three proposals on the table for the long vacant I-696/Main Street parcel.

Singh Development will present an initial concept for a luxury apartment complex to the DDA. Credit: JDavis Architects
Singh Development will present an initial concept for a luxury apartment complex to the DDA. Credit: JDavis Architects
Developers presented an initial concept for a $35 million luxury apartment complex on the vacant parcel at Interstate 696 and Main Street to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) at a meeting at City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Todd Rankine, director, architecture and planning at Singh Development LLC, walked directors through the proposed 4-story building with 192 units, including 19 street-level townhouses and a combination of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The building would be constructed of brick and stone, materials that are low on maintenance and long on durability, according to Rankine. The project would take 12-18 months to develop.

Units would rent for approximately $1,500 to $2,500 per month.

Singh would own, development, construct and operate the project. In the past 25 years, the developer has constructed 20 "luxury" projects in Michigan and has to more in the pipeline, according to attorney Dennis Cowan, who introduced the development team to directors.

Singh's portfolio also includes the 82-unit Waltonwoods Royal Oak assisted living facility located at 3450 W. 13 Mile Road, which was built in 1998 and renovated in 2012.

[Read: Developers Present Luxury 'Woodward Grand' Concept for I-696/Main Street Parcel]

Date set to discuss proposals

The Singh concept is one of three proposals on the table for the vacant I-696/Main Street parcel.

In December, Versa DevelopmentCG Emerson Real Estate Group and Farran Group presented their concept to build apartments, a 4-story medical/office building and a retail area on the property.

[Read: Developers Present 'Gateway' Concept for I-696 Site to DDA]

A third consideration is an office building office but no tangible plans have been presented to the DDA to look at yet.

DDA directors will meet at 9 a.m. on March 1 for a work session to discuss the three concepts, though it's unlikely that the office building complex will be ready at that time with design drawings, according to City Manager Don Johnson.

"From my point of view, I am looking at the scale of the development," said Director Bill Harrison of the office complex, adding "with computers today, it's easy to give us an idea of what the building might look like."

Director Michael Sophiea asked that the third developer send over any materials that might be helpful in terms of the discussion.

"I don't picture us coming to any kind of conclusion at that meeting anyway," Sophiea said. "We might get a direction and we might be able to talk more about the process moving forward."

In other I-696/Main Street news, the DDA approved a request from the Detroit Zoo to renew its licensing agreement to use the vacant parcel for the purposes of overflow parking. The agreement has an out if the property is sold. 

Jack Manning February 22, 2014 at 12:20 AM
Ho-Hum! Another "Grand Proposal." Don't get excited....it may disappear just like all the others over the years. Where is RO going to put all the snow from now on, and where are all those free parkers going to the Free Zoo days going to park. I thought there was a need for "Green Space." Also, how many Liquor Licenses will be included.
RON Ostrodamus March 20, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Great job Judy, you are amazing. I only wish our city treated its downtown like the owner of a major mall where the landlord dictates what they want from each tenant inside and outside regardless of expense and his only responsibility is the common area(in the case of RO the roads and streets). Of course the tenants pay a mall maintenance and management fee for that. If I were that landlord I would let the world know exactly what I wish for for 411 Main and the 696 gateway and I would sound it loud and clear that the days of abatements and brownfields and transferred liquor licenses onto properties that are not grandfathered from twelve mile to the gateway are ended. Let the courts sort it out as I know that judges who want to get re-elected generally favor municipalities. I would tell 411 that we decided against a hotel at that location because of the congested parking and traffic but would like to see apartments and office space and a parking structure for both. That I would like to see an additional parking structure that could be leased out to absorb overflow from E-Magine and Hamlin Pub which is already happening. That if they would consider moving the plan for a major hotel to the 696 gateway and plan office space while allowing the zoo a parking structure that the zoo would pay for we would look favorably on their plan and even grant them a five year one million dollar abatement (to absorb the wasted costs of the previous plan). As far as Singh whom I like because his company is hands on and does not plan to ask for any abatement or brownfield and appears to be flexible I would ask if he could add office space to the Woodward side and also consider allowing the zoo to erect their own parking structure. They say if something sounds too good to be true it usually is and that is my feeling with Tata Technologies where every decision is made in India, and all the drawings submitted are tentative. Otherwise I feel they have the best plan to bring additional traffic downtown but I would require them to allow the zoo to build its own parking structure for the benefit of both our downtown and the zoo. Schostak's use of LA fitness whose walled design and blind exit is an invitation to thieves is not encouraging example. Schostak is probably the country's largest agent but I cannot see them having a lot of say with another behemoth operation in India. And the agent admits that is where all decisions are made. I am disappointed that none of these companies recognized the need to eliminate the Main Street bottle neck where two lanes merge into one just before the turn onto the 696 driveway and offer to add an additional right turn. With increased traffic there will be increased road rage as cars race like chariots in the Ben Hur movie cutting ahead in line to beat the light. The Woodward turn off by the zoo allows two lanes to turn right with no problem. Our DDA unfortunately does not think out of the box regarding this traffic issue, nor the lack of sufficient parking and the probable traffic gridlock that will be created at 411 under the present plan. Consider that property values are rising in RO only because available affordable property in preferable Birmingham is disappearing so the only choice is Detroit, or well located to major freeways Royal Oak. We no longer have to be beggars and we need a city hall that can recognize that. These are just my ruminations for the best of all possible worlds Pangloss.
RON Ostrodamus March 20, 2014 at 01:09 PM
Above all I a cannot understand WHY the city allowed themselves an out on 696 if the property is sold. If the tower read Royal Oak Zoo instead of Detroit Zoo maybe they would realize what is good for the zoo is good for Royal Oak. They really threw the baby out with the bathwater with that decision.
Philip March 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Do you realize that only the Zoo's entrance is in Royal Oak? Most of it is in Huntington Woods.
Mark Itall March 21, 2014 at 06:20 PM
411 Main? No such project. Still having real problems with basic facts, eh Ron? Really makes people not take your good points seriously.
RON Ostrodamus March 22, 2014 at 10:33 PM
Mea Culpa Mark. You are right and since my computer type is delayed it impossible to retype. One cannot edit a comment on a blog not one's own.


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