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Visions for Farmington: Imagine Private Development on Public Land

Farmington officials discuss the sale of publicly owned properties, but what should replace them?

In a recent blog post, Farmington Mayor Pro Tem Bill Galvin suggested the sale of publicly owned properties for private development and building a new city campus with some of the proceeds. 

The idea of selling properties like the former 47th District Court building on 10 Mile Road, the Maxfield Training Center on Thomas Street and even city hall is nothing new, Mayor Tom Buck pointed out during a Monday night city council meeting. But with the push to create a new vision for Farmington, we thought it would be fun to do some dreaming.

Here's your assignment:

Imagine that Farmington City Hall and Public Safety Department, and the Farmington Community Library Farmington branch were lifted off the property that stretches down the east side of Liberty Street from Grand River to State Street. What kind of private development would you like to see there? Or should it remain "as is"? 

Darren Whittaker March 12, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Given the current market for commercial real estate, and the considerable amount of property already available - for some time now - how would this be a wise move? The city properties mentioned would all require significant investment to serve other purposes, in addition to the purchase price. Combine that issue with the cost of building new facilities to accommodate community needs, and this proposal loses much of it's shine. Maybe upgrading what we have now, if needed, seems like a better solution.
Guy Provenza March 12, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Although I hate to see our commons sold off, I understand the need to increase the tax base. I would favor selling the Department of Public Works building, the Maxfield Training Center, and similar buildings, however I am not in favor of selling the City Hall and Farmington Community Library. I think moving those facilities to an artificially created campus will harm the walkability and small-town charm of the downtown area that brought many of us to this community in the first place. One of the desired results of this plan is an increase in public school students. I would advise against selling off too many public school properties. Where will you expand if you get that desired increase in enrollment and another school is needed? Condos downtown would be beneficial, and I would welcome more residents. Nevertheless, I am skeptical of adding more retail and office space. This assumes an “If you build it, they will come” mentality. However one need only look to the mostly vacant Downtown Farmington Center and all the other empty buildings along Grand River and Farmington Road to see this is not the case. I do not see much benefit to Farmington's citizens by selling off our assets for more vacant buildings owned by some out of state company that uses them as a tax write-off.
Josh Klein March 13, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I completely agree. There is no private business that is worth losing those public buildings.
Danielle Boone March 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Remain as is. With all due respect, I am in agreement with my fellow citizens/neighbors. The Library, City Hall and Public Safety should remain where they are. No private business would interest my family in place of these great services to our community. Staying as is will continue to serve our community like a community- like the city we are...not a town with no resources and/or more businesses than residential communities. We are a total of 8 miles (N., S., E. W.), let's use wisdom in choosing what should/will be sold to increase revenue for our city. Thank you for this opportunity to express my comment.
Michael Ritenour March 16, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of returning city property to the tax rolls, and I think the ideas bear further consideration. I agree, however, with some of the above comments to the effect that we do not need more office space; we already have a large number of insurance agencies and other worthwhile but non-destination companies (and some less-than-worthwhile businesses) occupying valuable potential retail or dining frontage on Grand River and Farmington Road. We also don't need to drive out current business tenants only to end up with more empty store fronts. And I'm very sympathetic to retaining the library within walking distance of the neighborhoods and downtown. But if a specific deal could be made to bring a major, upscale retailer or unique dining destination to the City Hall property, or other destination-type businesses or upscale residential to the empty or underutilized downtown city properties, the trade off may be worthwhile. It will only work, however, in the context of an overall plan that will convey an image of a walkable dining, retail, and entertainment area that will not only draw Farmington residents but will compete with Northville, Plymouth, Milford, Royal Oak, and Ferndale. I would like to see the ideas debated as part of the Visioning Process.

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