By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The city received public feedback on preliminary concepts for the possible development of vacant property at Michigan Avenue and Brady during an open house April 30 at the John Dingell Transit Center, 21201 Michigan Ave.
Economic & Community Development Assistant Department Head Thomas Paison explained that consultants presented the three different main options for how the vacant site might be arranged to persevere the McFadden-Ross
House, 915 S. Brady, and still allow for infill development on parts of the site.
“The site is a key gateway to west Dearborn, the city would like to see a development that accommodates and provides financial support for the museum while further enhancing the downtown area and experience,” Paison said.
Based on the plan concept illustrations, all three include the museum, public amenity, focal point or flex building, parking, new attached residential, green space and mixed use options.
“We took questions and comments on the development concepts and vision for the site, had participants fill out a short survey and offered the opportunity to take part in an interactive activity with maps and Legos scaled to realistic building footprints and heights to see what sort of arrangement they could come up with for the site,” Paison said. “Facilitators interacted with the participants to get their comments and thoughts, and take pictures of their designs.”
According to a city press release, the land is not for sale, nor is there a specific developer in mind, and any development of the property would preserve the McFadden-Ross House, create an enhanced space for historical exhibits and archives, and generate revenue for the ongoing needs of the museum.
“The city has been provided predevelopment technical assistance as it explores potential developments for this site because it’s a Certified Redevelopment Ready Community under the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,” a city press release said. “Its RRC status meant the city qualified for a special grant, which has funded the creation of the concepts by the Williams & Works team, led by Lynee Wells of Aligned Planning. Also involved is Ryan Schmidt of Indigo Properties and development manager at ICCF.”
During the open house, consultants went over their analysis of the property’s opportunities and constraints and the informational feedback they got from the prior round of stakeholder meetings.
Paison said consultants met with four different groups on March 5: the museum staff, development and business community, elected and appointed officials, and Historical Museum Commission and Morley Area Residents Association Board.
As for timeline, the goal is to decide on a concept by late May.
Steps along that timeline are: a preferred concept pro forma completion by May 6, text and images for request for qualifications developed also by May 6, a staff review of request for qualifications during the week of May 13, MEDC formats the request for qualifications by the end of May, the request for qualifications draft is provided to the City Council for review in early June, and the request for qualifications issued in late June.
When asked about what the next steps for the site are, Paison said, “The incorporation of the additional feedback to further refine the development concept and financial analysis to see if some variant of it might be feasible and attractive to a private developer to invest in.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])