A six-story senior housing development planned at Elizabeth and Second streets by the Moceri Group was approved on Monday, July 9, by the Rochester City Council.
The 243,124-square-foot project known as Blossom Mills will feature 137 units and include a library, casual dining area, a fine dining restaurant open to residents, vendor spaces, a recreation room, cooking class room, spa, swimming pool, workout room and lounge area. Units will range from $2,800 to $4,700 per month, with housing subsidies available to qualified veterans and their spouses.
Dominic Moceri, with Blossom Mills LLC, an affiliate of the Moceri Companies, said the project started by looking at the needs of the Rochester community through market research and the city's master plan. Of all the age groups in the city, he said the senior population was the only one that is rising in Rochester. Additionally, he said the proposed project is less intensive on traffic and infrastructure than the current and potential uses in the area. Lastly, he said the price point of Blossom Mills is "attainable" in comparison to other home listings in Rochester, which he said have a low end of more than $200,000.
"We feel our services are far more outreaching and exciting to residents," he said about the proposed Blossom Mills community. "There is no greater."
City planning consultant John Jackson, president of McKenna Associates, said the 2.47-acre property is zoned as I-1, industrial zoning, which requires that Blossom Mills receive a special project approval from city council in order to proceed. The project was recommended for approval on May 7 by the city's planning commission, which recommended some changes to the site plan.
Moceri said the plans have been revised about eight times in 16 months, based on comments by the planning commission, city staff, engineers and comments received from the public. No comments were made by the public for or against the project on Monday, July 9, during a public hearing portion of the meeting.
Jackson said McKenna's review of the project found it would be a much needed product serving a niche market.
Site plans include a brick building with stone and masonry, with balconies on all units. The building materials were found to be in line with the historic character of the city.
In addition to work on the site, Moceri proposed improvements to Elizabeth Street Park, including landscaping and a water wall. Pedestrian safety improvements are also planned along the adjacent trail system, including motion-activated lights and new signage on the roadway at the roadway crossing points.
The project also was the first to undergo a "sustainability rating" under the city's new sustainability tool, which aims to score potential projects to see whether they are meeting longterm goals of the city and how projects will impact current and future traffic trends, utility uses and other factors. Projects may score a maximum of 20 points, with two achievable metrics removed from the Blossom Mills project because it is located outside of the DDA area, which would allow it to receive two additional points. Overall, the project was rated 14 of 18, landing it in the highest score category and denoting it meets the city's longterm planning goals.
While the project failed to score points for "affordability," because it didn't come in within the city's median unit price, Moceri said he considers Blossom Mills to be attainable, based on what is currently available in the city, and the project's upscale offerings. Further, he said Blossom Mills has partnered with Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America to offer housing subsidies between $300 and $800 a month to veterans or their spouses with qualifying incomes that are no more than 80 percent of the city's median income.
"I believe we should honor those that have given service, and that we should have attainability for those," he said. "We believe that inclusiveness is essential to sustainability."
The special project approval and site plan were unanimously approved by council, which all offered positive remarks on the project.
"I've been in real estate for 30 years and I love your other projects, and I love this one," said councilwoman Ann Peterson. "My only one concern was that of density for the area, but I'm OK with it because I know what this will bring us and how it will change the dynamics of what we have. I think it's important to bring this to the community for this age group because we are lacking something like this."