By the time Founders Festival rolls around next year, the eastern end of the Downtown Farmington Business Center should have a whole new look.
Farmington city council members on Monday approved a resolution that sets a Dec. 17 public hearing to establish the need for the Grove Street improvement project. Aging, cracked and raised slabs of concrete will be replaced by an asphalt boulevard street with on-street parking, stamped concrete sidewalks and a look similar to the existing downtown Farmington streetscape.
City manager Vince Pastue said Manifold Ventures, a Farmington Hills-based investment firm that recently purchased the T.J. Maxx-anchored strip, has agreed to a $600,000 special assessment that will help fund the $1.7 million project. The balance of funds will come from street, water and sewer and capital improvements funds.
"There is a willing partnership with the property owners," Pastue said, noting the city would acquire the parking lot in front of the building.
Grove Street runs south from Grand River, separating the parking lot from the city-owned Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion and Riley Park property and the south end of the Downtown Farmington Center, which is owned by Kimco Realty, headquartered in New York.
Kimco will not be special-assessed, Pastue said, because of an easement agreement struck in 2006.
If the special assessment district is approved, the construction schedule starts with an advertisement for bids in January, 2013 and ends with substantial completion June 30, 2013. Pastue said the fast pace aims to minimize disruption to businesses in the area.
Council member JoAnne McShane asked about the existing pylon sign, which is on the city's side of the road and will be removed as part of the project. Pastue said its replacement is part of the on-going negotiations with Manifold Ventures.
Responding to a question from council member Kristen Kuiken, Pastue said the pedestrian crossing on the south end will be improved. Currently, walkers cross from a sidewalk on the west side of Grove to the T.J. Maxx parking lot. Pastue said some of the parking on that end will be lost, but overall, the project will expand the number of parking spaces in that area.