Here we go again: Ferndale gets its knickers in a bunch over a parking deck

A rendering of the proposed mixed-use parking structure on West Troy and Allen Streets in Ferndale.

Fake news is rearing its ugly head in Ferndale, threatening to derail the city’s attempt to follow through on its plans to build a mixed-use parking deck to alleviate parking shortages in the downtown business district.

At issue is the mixed-use part of the proposed structure, which would be located on the site of a surface parking lot at Allen and West Troy streets — not the structure itself.

Residents, egged on by downtown business owners and a largely sympathetic piece in a neighborhood mailer called Ferndale Friends, are urging the city to scrap its original plan to build a parking deck that includes ground-flour storefronts and the potential to add office space on top further down the line. Instead, they want a plain old pre-cast parking garage, hold the frills.

Seriously. In Fabulous Ferndale.

From Oakland County 115:

The swell of business concern came after a letter was distributed and signed by 45 businesses opposing the mixed use design. The letter inaccurately stated that a simple deck could be done in six months, and mixed use would take 1.5-2 years. In reality a single use would take 9-12 months and a mixed use would take 12-15.

The letter also called for a two-three story deck instead of the four-story deck that is proposed. “We respectfully request that the plan for Ferndale’s future, solve our parking problem, refrain from creating additional demands for parking, not overshadow the historic character  of our community and not threaten current businesses,” the letter stated.

Now, residents are arming themselves with petitions, citing the business owners’ concerns. Plenty of residents are also telling people that the reported $20 million bond (it would be up to $20 million) would be paid by taxpayers; in reality, it would be paid off by revenue from parking, traffic tickets and from storefront leases.

Ferndale’s parking pickle

A mural in the pedestrian alley at Detroit’s Z Garage.

If you feel like you’ve heard this story before, it’s because you have.

Two years ago, city officials threw in the towel on a proposed public-private partnership that would have added two new mixed-use parking decks in downtown Ferndale after a tide of opposition from residents and business owners essentially tarred the project.

Then, as now, business owners objected to the threat to their bottom lines from parking disruptions.

I am not insensitive to that issue, and I don’t think the city is, either. I don’t doubt that a lot of downtown businesses face narrow margins for survival without a parking lot taken away. But the city has been grappling with its parking shortage for at least a decade, and it has made clear its intent to work on temporary parking solutions during construction.

The city has also said it wants to attract more office development as a way to generate more daytime traffic for business owners.

That downtown business owners are pleading for the city not to “create additional demands for parking” sends a very mixed message. Are they afraid of more competition? Of bigger crowds plying Nine Mile? Of change itself?

Ferndale is in the midst of a growth spurt. Frankly, it needs it. As I recently wrote, there’s plenty of room to grow.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to feel passionate about a parking deck. But Detroit has demonstrated the potential of mixed-use parking decks with projects like the Z Garage, which has filled with vibrant street-level businesses that integrate more or less seamlessly with the urban fabric — storefronts, pedestrian activity, murals and the like — than a hulking structure that exists only to house cars.

Ferndale, we should be better than this.

Update: Oakland County Times (formerly Oakland County 115) has an story on petitioners spreading false information to gather signatures in an effort to force the issue to go to a public vote.

Photo by soupstance

10 thoughts on “Here we go again: Ferndale gets its knickers in a bunch over a parking deck

  1. Well, I guess the folks trying to ram this thing through are getting desperate, because now they’re getting insulting about it.
    Fine. Build as many gargantuan, overpriced developments as you want along Nine Mile. Ignore all other sectors of the city, ignore all other needed projects. It will serve to stoke your ego to have a giant thing on Nine Mile. You can point to it and puff out your chest and everything.
    I’ll just tell you that 25 years ago, Royal Oak pushed two of my friends out of business in order to go ahead with their developments. Now it’s all overpriced restaurants and haughty boutiques. They have Birmingham 2.0, not Royal Oak. I wonder if they’re happy?
    Say goodbye to the reasonably-priced restaurants on Nine Mile. Say goodbye to old favorites like Library Bookstore. I mean, who need them? We need another bar where you can sip $15 vodka shots from cups carved from icebergs, or some crap like that.

      1. So who is 8-Wood Blog? Most editorial authors have a real identity. Especially when they have an agenda but use all the needed language, to seem unbiased. I believe most Ferndalians, would definitely object to Ferndale being on the course to Royal Oak 2.0

        1. Thanks for the comment. My name is Sven and I’m not trying to hide my identity or my motivations. It’s all spelled out clearly on this site.

    1. How exactly is a multifunctional parking deck going to turn Ferndale into RO? All I see it doing is bringing much needed parking to the city and at the same time making it functional. It’s smart. I see no reason why we would have to “say goodbye” to anything in Ferndale as it is just because we are introducing this structure. Those who talk so fatalistic about such a simple thing are absolutely ridiculous. Parking is severely needed. People don’t come to Ferndale sometimes especially during events/on busy nights because parking is such an issue. This is doing something to solve it. And I’m pretty sure most residents are on board, aside from those people who have businesses with a strong market share that they don’t want to be compromised. End of.

  2. Fake news, really Trump is in the house. The city its the main cause of the problem. Do you really think that 45 business can survive for a year. The logical choice would be a no thrills structure. It’s simple and cost effective. Once that is completed, lets start on the parking structure on Whithington. Since the city allowed Phase II knows that parking is limited one spot per 120 units. The city said visitors and residents can park on street that is over crowed with cars, an apartment building and Senior residents.

  3. I know I stand with a small group of bus supporters but think about this: Building a $15 million dollar parking deck or promoting the existing bus services that run on Woodward and on 9 Mile. It is so weird how in other major cities people will park further away and spend more time walking or using transit but not here in Metro Detroit. If we can’t park close by and walk right in we’ll just go somewhere else. The 710 SMART bus travels on 9 Mile daily and there are at least half a dozen Woodward buses running every day. It is a myth that all cities run on: that they need to grow continuously or else people will move away and the city will shut down.

    1. Totally agree. It consistently amazes me, as someone who grew up in Ann Arbor and used the bus there to go downtown, how completely wedded people are here to the automobile. And don’t get me started on my feelings about valet parking. (Actually, maybe I should do a post on that.)

      Thanks again for reading, and the great comments.

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