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  • By Lisa Brody

Parking panel reviews redevelopment plans

Birmingham's ad hoc parking committee met on Friday, February 9, to review request for proposal submissions to redevelop the site at Bates and where the N. Old Woodward parking structure currently stands for a complex consisting of residential, commercial and retail while building a new parking garage with hundreds more parking spaces, and narrowed the submissions from three to two qualified firms.

The parcel of land, approximately four acres in the city’s central business district, consists of the current N. Old Woodward parking garage, an adjacent parking lot and adjacent parcels. The city’s objective has been to solicit creative and innovative development plans from qualified developers that will extend Bates Street from Willits to N. Old Woodward and redevelop the remainder of the site by constructing a new parking structure that will provide a minimum of 380 parking spaces in addition to replacing the 770 parking spaces currently on the N. Old Woodward / Bates Street site. Plans also called for adding residential, commercial and/or mixed uses in order to create an activated, pedestrian-oriented urban streetscape while also providing public access to the Rouge River and Booth Park to the north.

The RFP stated, in part, that the city was seeking a new parking structure with a minimum of 1,150 parking spaces; a new mixed use building adjacent to a parking structure facing N. Old Woodward Avenue; a service drive access to the adjacent buildings both north and south of the parking structure; new mixed use building facing Willits Street; public park property and connection between a new city street and the existing Rouge River to the north; and a residential building on the north end of the site, which can take advantage of the existing views in the area.

They initially had four development groups submit proposals, which included parking consultants, developers, architects, designers and consultants, but only three ultimately submitted completed proposals to the city by the January 3, 2018 deadline: REDICO, TIR Equities and Woodward, Bates, LLC.

At the ad hoc parking meeting on February 9, the committee conducted a preliminary review of the proposals and determined that they wanted further discussions with Woodward, Bates, comprised of Saroki Architecture (Victor Saroki) of Birmingham, Walbridge (John Rakolta, Jr.) of Detroit, Boji Group (Ron Boji), Lansing, and Robertson Bros. Homes (Paul C. Robertson Jr.), of Bloomfield; and TIR Equities, a Birmingham-based limited liability company incorporated by Ara Darakjian of Darakjian Jewelers on Willits Street in Birmingham.

“In order to move the project from concept to a development plan, this initial review by the committee was a way to start vetting the proposals and help the committee gain an understanding of what's in them as well as further discussion on possible next steps,” said Birmingham spokesperson Kevin Byrnes.

The ad hoc parking committee will meet again March 9, to continue reviewing and vetting the proposals. Birmingham city commissioners would like to approve a final development plan by January 2019.

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