By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — The former Allen Park Studio Center property soon may be home to retail stores once again.
West Bloomfield Township-based Lormax Stern will develop and market the property, City Council members announced Tuesday. The company plans to turn the front parcels of the property into restaurants and retail outlets, City Administrator David Tamsen said.
“We are trying to change and move forward with the property next door,” he said, “get away from the studio, and focus on retail, restaurant and office use in the building.”
Lormax Stern is donating its services for the project at no cost to the city, Mayor Gary Burtka said. The company also is talking to several big-box stores for potential development of an adjoining property on Enterprise Drive.
The move came after a special meeting last week where several options were mentioned for the property, including a senior citizen housing facility. In the end, Tamsen said, the council decided retail was the best use of the property.
Members mentioned contacting book retailer Borders to offer the location for its new corporate headquarters. The company recently announced it was moving out of its current Ann Arbor headquarters.
Current tenants, like Stautzenberger Institute, are not to be affected by the change.
The property, which the city purchased in 2008 for $25 million, was the subject of controversy since its major tenant, Jimmy Lifton, pulled his two companies, Unity Studios and the Lifton Institute for Media Skills, from the complex last fall after a year on the property.
The companies originally were lauded for their potential to bring film-industry jobs into the city, but only two films were shot during their tenancy.
An audit performed earlier this year valued the property at $19.5 million. It has served as offices for automotive engineering firm Roush and once was the site of a Montgomery Ward store.