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Farmington, School Officials Work Together to Redevelop Vacant Properties

City council member Bill Galvin calls redevelopment of the Maxfield Training Center in downtown Farmington a 'hundred-year decision'.

Whatever happens to the Farmington Public Schools Maxfield Training Center (MTC), redevelopment of the property is expected to have a powerful impact on downtown Farmington.

The 65,000-square-foot building sits on Thomas Street just north of Grand River, the heart of the city's central business district. Vacant for about three years, the property lies within the Farmington Downtown Development Authority Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. Moving it from public to private ownership will boost tax revenues and likely influence how the city develops in the future. 

"Whatever's going to go there, it's a hundred-year decision," mayor pro-tem Bill Galvin said during a discussion at Monday's city council meeting. "We've got to hit a home run." 

City officials have proposed a letter of agreement with Farmington Public Schools that would put the city in the driver's seat when it comes to marketing and developing the MTC and the vacant Flanders Elementary School property at 32600 Flanders St., Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said.

Officials have received a redevelopment proposal for the Flanders property that includes homes in the $200,000-$250,000 range, plus a neighborhood park, Christiansen added. The City of Farmington Hills has been brought into discussions, because of a neighboring subdivision in that community and the potential decommissioning of two baseball fields still in use on the school property. 

Mayor Tom Buck said, in his mind, "residential is the best use" for the MTC property as well. While the school district has budgeted the $100,000-plus estimated cost of demolishing the building, Christiansen said that option will be studied over the next 60-120 days. 

"I want to approach the schools to get 'for sale' signs on these properties immediately," council member JoAnne McShane said. 

Christiansen said once the letter of agreement is signed, a committee will be formed to work on getting a request for proposals out to the development community. 

"I've had development interest coming in about that property," he said. 

Michael Ritenour May 08, 2013 at 04:21 PM
This has been a big topic of discussion in the Farmington Vision Plan process. There is a consensus that the property will be key to the future of Downtown Farmington because of the potential for mixed residential/retail uses and providing a high-visibility, improved access point to Shiawassee Park, all of which would attract the new residents and commercial traffic we need to improve the tax base. I would encourage readers to become involved in the Vision Plan process and thereby influence these decisions.
Dawn N May 08, 2013 at 06:05 PM
It would be a good idea for the city to look in to possibly using all or part of the property to build a small parking lot/structure (2-3 stories?) that is either free or very low cost to park in. More parking near/in downtown also encourages foot traffic. First United Methodist Church already uses the parking lots at both ends on Sundays and during other events at the church.
Josh Klein May 08, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Michael I've been to a couple of the vision meetings and I'm very excited to see progress on redeveloping this plot. I encourage more Farmington residents tp definitely be involved. I also agree with Councilman Galvin that the Maxfield site is an incredibly important plot for the future of downtown Farmington. My personal hope is that we can look towards having a great mixed use spot that adds residents, foot traffic, and liveliness to downtown while also increasing the tax base.

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