Parking Lot Purchase, Special Assessment Seal Downtown Farmington Deal

City officials on Monday approve a $600,000 purchase agreement and a special assessment for redevelopment of The Groves shopping center and Grove Street streetscape.

Farmington city officials approved several measures on Monday to seal the deal on a project with a dizzying number of components – and the potential to spur even more redevelopment in downtown Farmington, officials say. 

The city entered into a $600,000 purchase agreement with Manifold Ventures, owner of The Groves shopping center at Grove Street and Grand River, for a parking lot on the west side of the building. In addition, officials established a special assessment district through which Manifold Ventures will pay the city $600,000 over 15 years, at 5 percent interest, to help fund the Grove Street streetscape project. 

"We had an appraisal (of the parking lot) done on the lot a number of years ago, when the price was considerably higher," city manager Vince Pastue said. "Over time, of course, the price has come down." 

The redesigned parking area will add 20-25 public spaces. Pastue said the Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is securing access to property at the northwest corner of the building. More than 400 square feet will be demolished, creating a vestibule entrance to Dress Barn and improving safety at the Grove/Grand River intersection. 

A "promenade" area near the center of the building is part of the city's property acquisition, Pastue said, and will blend with the new Grove streetscape to provide a public gathering space. The city will consider license agreements, similar to those in place with John Cowley & Sons and Basement Burger Bar, if businesses that lease space in the building want outdoor seating. 

"As tenants are secured, the users will determine the extent of improvements in this area," Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said. 

Projects begin April 1

A separate license agreement will govern a monument sign that will replace the pylon sign currently towering over downtown Farmington, Pastue said. Major renovations are limited to the west side of the building, but plans call for awnings and other cosmetic improvements on the north and east sides. Christiansen said a portion of the north side may be turned into a community "bulletin board" or public art space. 

The shopping center renovation and Grove Street streetscape projects both begin on April 1, with a detailed construction schedule that ensures the projects don't get in each other's way, Christiansen said. Access to businesses will be maintained, primarily through Orchard Street, which runs behind the Kimco-owned buildings to the west. 

Pastue said he expects the taxable value of the building to increase, although remodelling is treated differently from new construction when it comes to assessment. "We know it will drive it up a little bit," he said, adding the DDA will capture any increase in value through the tax increment financing (TIF) district. 

The Farmington DDA Main Street Design committee will review the plans this week; they'll also be on Monday's Planning Commission agenda, Christiansen said. 

"I think this will spur redevelopment in the downtown," he added. "I think it will be a cornerstone for redevelopment." 

Read more about The Groves remodeling project: New Façade Will Transform Downtown Shopping Center. 

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