Construction projects continue to reshape downtown Ferndale, with plans under way to build a two-story office and retail building on the site where a vacant residential structure was recently demolished.
The roughly 3,700 square-foot site at 413 W. Nine Mile was recently cleared to make way for a two-story office and retail development that is currently in the building plan process, Ferndale city planner Justin Lyons said. It’s directly across West Nine Mile from the Ferndalehaus lofts development, another active construction site, and is wedged between a city-owned parking lot and Hungry Howie’s.
Developer Joe Iacopelli said the final project could become a mix of ground-floor retail and second-floor office space, or all office. The building would be around 4,000 square feet total and have a modern, contemporary look, he said.
“Really what the city would like to see is more office down there,” he said.
Iacopelli, the owner of Iacopelli Build Co., said he’d like to lure “a nice national tenant” but added, “I’m open to suggestions on that. I need to know what Ferndale is lacking and then I’ll talk to those people.”
Ferndale officials have spoken openly about wanting to lure more office tenants to the downtown, partly as a way to provide more foot traffic and support for retailers and restaurants that struggle during the daytime hours. Barry Hicks, the executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, told me earlier this year that property owners are increasingly targeting national tenants to meet rising lease rates.
City records show that Iacopelli originally proposed a three-story structure with third-floor retail. Converting the site to an office use would allow him to skirt requirements to provide onsite parking. He’ll also provide two bike racks in front of the building.
Iacopelli said he aims to have the building completed by spring or summer 2017. The architect on the project is Clinton Township-based Polyarch Inc.
Iacopelli, based in Sterling Heights, is primarily a home builder but does some work on commercial projects. This is the firm’s first project in Ferndale.
“The vibrant downtown areas are always nice to have retail and office spaces in. You get a lot of traffic,” Iacopelli said.
Meanwhile, crews at the Ferndalehaus site across the street recently demolished a vacant Save-A-Lot grocery store and are excavating a foundation in preparation for the 90-unit, four-story loft building.