One of the investors who purchased a downtown Farmington strip center says the company saw a lot of potential in the property and its location.
"We thought it would be a fun project," Manifold Ventures partner Charlie Kughn told city council members in a study session Monday. "It's a great building, tenant-wise. We think we can do a lot with it."
Kughn pointed out the company's office is just down the road, in Farmington Hills. He said he grew up in Farmington Hills and Milford, "so I'm very familiar with this area."
The project will coincide with streetscape improvements to Grove Street, located just east of the Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion and Riley Park. There will be a pedestrian crosswalk connecting the Kimco-owned strip center to the west with the Manifold Ventures property, in the area of New Cedar restaurant.
City manager Vince Pastue said the end result will be a "more contemporary look". Kughn noted the company is very conscious of the feel of downtown Farmington and hopes to "lead architecturally", while not "sticking out".
He said plans include creating a "visual center" where Painting with a Twist, Bellis Spa and Bargain Books are located, using arches and other embellishments.
"We really want to make that an area where you want to gather," Kughn said. "It's going to create a very nice focal point."
Overall, the building will be visually divided in up to three distinct sections, he said, so visitors can see where all the tenants are.
"I was very impressed," said council member JoAnne McShane. "It's just gonna pop. This will be a turning point for the downtown."
She also noted the public-private partnership; Manifold Ventures has agreed to to help pay for the $1.7 million Grove Street project.
Kughn said his company continues to negotiate with anchor T.J. Maxx over the tall pylon sign that is part of the company's lease. He had high praise for Farmington city staff, planning commission and the Downtown Development Authority. "It's been a breath of fresh air," he said. "Everything has been ticking right along."
According to the company's website, Manifold Ventures has given the building a new name. They're calling it "The Groves".