Former prison site in Northville Twp. to feature homes, retail

Posted on December 8, 2016

With Meijer out of the picture, a proposed development at Five Mile and Beck will literally be a village with a variety of housing, retail, movie theater, perhaps a grocery and community public spaces in an urban, contemporary setting.

“We kind of switched gears,” said Howard Fingeroot, a managing partner of Pinnacle Homes, which will provide the large residential component.


Developers REDICO of Southfield had initially planned to have a Meijer as the anchor for the proposed Village at Northville, on the former Scott Prison property on northwest corner of Beck and Five Mile, abutting the Northville Township community park. But strong and loud community opposition and a less than unanimous vote among township trustees led REDICO to alter its plans.

The concept plan and planned unit development zoning for Village at Northville was approved Tuesday, Nov. 29. The approvals carried conditions that must be met. But the approval also knocks over a near final hurdle in the anticipated sale of the property to REDICO. The approval allows township Supervisor Bob Nix and Clerk Sue Hillebrand to finalize the PUD agreement following an attorney review. A PUD is a negotiated agreement that allows some flexibility of development and design.

Northville Township purchased the former prison property from the state for $1 in 2012 on the condition that it be sold for development by Dec. 30 or used for a public purpose. The township will receive a large portion of the sale proceeds, earmarked for demolition and environmental cleanup at the former Northville Psychiatric Hospital on Seven Mile, which the township also owns. Approximately 40 percent of the sale proceeds will go to the state, according to township officials.

While a residential component was “incidental” to the original REDICO plans for the property, removing the Meijer or any other big box retailer, changed the development’s focus. “Residential (now) needed to be a key part of this,” said Brian Wenzel of Atwell Hick civil engineering. “I don’t think it can be one type of residential.”

The concept plan includes 111 single-family lots with a minimum 6,000-square-foot lots; 66 townhomes; 190 lofts, with some of them designed as work-live units. Though small — compared to typical Northville Township residential properties — the single-family lot size “is fairly typical of an urban development,” Wenzel said.

When the Meijer plan was nixed, the development was left with a need for a certain amount of density to make it profitable for developers, he added. But one of the included conditions of approval was that the single-family homes would be a maximum 3,400 square feet because of setbacks and the reduced lot sizes.

The townhomes would include one-or-two-car garages with four-to-eight units per building. They would also be located closer to the development’s commercial space and frames the village’s open space. “These might attract some commercial or office traffic,” Wenzel said.

The proposed lofts that will be on the northeast corner of the development will offer 190 units of one-and-two bedrooms. Wenzel said the lofts would be built in the “podium” style with first floor parking and retail.

The development also would include some 92,000 square feet of retail, excluding the loft space. The Village at Northville also would include a central residential common area — a landscaped urban park of about 1.35 acres. It will be an area defined with trees and measure 530 feet long and 110 feet wide. Roads around the park would be closed and opened for pedestrian traffic.

Wenzel suggested a comparison to Plymouth’s popular Kellogg Park, which is 1.15 acres, the city of Northville’s park at .34-acres and Shain Park in Birmingham at 2.25 acres. Walkways will be connected to the park. “I don’t want this to just be a park for the residents,” trustee MIndy Hermann said.

Following the decision to remove Meijer from the development plan, Fingeroot said developers and planners involved with the project had to make a quick turnaround for a new plan, which still requires some fine tuning and conceptual drawings of the residential units.

In response to a question from Treasurer Marjorie Banner about maintenance responsibilities, Fingeroot said the residential developments will have homeowners associations and managers assigned to certain portions of the development to address maintenance and other responsibilities.

The proposed development also sets off the need for road improvements along Beck and Five Mile. Township officials hope that the improvements made by the developer — such as aligning the Village of Northville Beck Road entrance with Technology Drive — will serve as leverage to obtain grants to make additional traffic improvements in the area, Nix said.

Meanwhile, Fingeroot said he has plans to meet with Wayne County officials regarding a traffic light on Five Mile at Home Depot, which is on the Plymouth Township side of the road.

Joanne Maliszewski, Detroit Free Press .