Ferndale officials have approved plans for a four-story, 27-unit residential loft building on the vacant site of a former church downtown, while different developers have introduced plans for a much larger loft project involving seven parcels encompassing an entire block of East Nine Mile Road.
The two new projects, which blend high-density residential with ground-floor retail, would add momentum to a steady eastward expansion of the city’s downtown district, joining newer developments like the Lofts on 9 and the forthcoming –––. They also come as preliminary work has begun on the Ferndalehaus Lofts project on West Nine Mile on the site of the former Save-A-Lot grocery store.
Taken together, the three projects would add 229 residential units and nearly 10,000 square feet of new commercial space, and dramatically change the look and profile of the downtown business district.
Twinning the Lofts on 9
Ferndale’s planning commission approved the first loft project earlier this week for 165 E. Nine Mile on the site of the former St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, which was demolished in 2014. It’s directly across Bermuda from the Lofts on 9, which is also owned by the developer, North Star Partners of Bloomfield Hills.
The building would feature almost 2,000 square feet of commercial space, including a possible restaurant, and 34 ground-floor parking spaces in the rear of the property. It would also feature 12 bike parking spaces, befitting the property’s zoning as central business district with a transit-oriented design overlay.
North Star did not respond to a message seeking comment. The architect on the project is Kriegger Klatt Architects.
The planning commission’s approval of the site plan is considered the final OK, through North Star still needs to fulfill some minor site plan and zoning appeal issues, said Justin Lyons, the city’s planner. Construction could start by next spring.
A block-long loft
Also this week, an East Lansing developer formally introduced its proposal for a four-story, 112-unit residential loft development on seven parcels totaling 1.4 acres on East Nine Mile Road. The loft would essentially fill the block between Leland and Paxton Streets.
The seven parcels are currently owned by Credit Union One, whose headquarters are across the street, and include buildings occupied by the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce and the FernCare Free Clinic. Lyons said FernCare plans to move to space in a strip mall further east on Nine Mile, while the Chamber would take up office space in the Credit Union One building.
The Wolf River Development project would feature 112 “reasonably priced market rate apartments” ranging from studios to 2-bedroom units. It would include features including outdoor seating, a dog run, rain gardens and pervious surfaces to absorb rainwater and limit stormwater runoff.
Plans there call for about 3,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at East Nine Mile and Leland, plus 139 parking spaces, about half of them concealed underneath the residential units. Developers also want to relocate part of the sidewalk lining Nine Mile and add 16 off-street parking spaces that the city could use for parking revenue.