A proposed development that would provide downtown Oxford with additional parking, plus a trio of brand-new buildings, was the subject of a presentation and public hearing at the June 21 village planning commission meeting.
“I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful development,” said village resident Dennis Moser, who lives next door to the site at 48 E. Burdick St. “I think you outdid yourself on this one. It looks nice.”
Local developer Dave Weckle, who owns Valley Building and Repair on Broadway St., is planning to construct a major mixed-use development encompassing portions of E. Burdick, Mill and Stanton streets.
The development would consist of three, three-story buildings containing a mix of office, retail and residential spaces, plus 58 new public parking spaces.
“They will be built (one per year) over a three-year period,” Weckle said. “I think that’s reasonable. Right now, the economy appears to support advancement in our community. A few years ago, it didn’t.”
A formal site plan has yet to be submitted to the village for review and approval. Weckle told this reporter he expects to do this in a couple weeks.
“I want to break ground in the fall,” he said.
The project is expected to include a building at the southeast corner of E. Burdick and Mill streets (approximately 22,800 square feet), a building on the southwest corner of E. Burdick and Mill streets (approximately 9,600 square feet), and a building on the northeast corner of Mill and Stanton streets (16,800 square feet).
Whether the third floor of each actually gets built and whether it will contain condos all depends on the market.
“If the demand’s not there for condos, I’m definitely not going to (build) condos on the third story,” Weckle said.
Richard Wilson, of Jeffery A. Scott Architects in Farmington, presented images to commissioners and the public depicting what the 22,800-square-foot building is going to look like.
“Our goal in the design . . . was to create a building that not only felt, but looked like it belonged (in) the Village of Oxford,” he explained
Wilson told commissioners the exterior of the ground floors (consisting of retail/office space) would be done in precast stone. The exterior of the second floors (containing office space) would be a “rich, dark masonry.” The top floors (consisting of residential condominiums with terraces) would be covered by an architectural panel system.
Weckle plans to use five properties he currently owns (42 and 46 E. Burdick St., plus 19, 21 and 23 Stanton St.) and three properties owned by the Downtown Development Authority (32, 36 and 38 E. Burdick St.) to make the development a reality.
As part of a proposed planned unit development (PUD) agreement with both the DDA and village, the DDA would transfer ownership of its three parcels to Weckle in exchange for his developing the 58-space public parking lot. This lot would then be owned by the DDA and maintained by the village.
“The DDA’s in full support of this development,” said DDA Executive Director Joe Frost, who spoke during the hearing.
Last November, the DDA board voted 6-0 to approve the proposed PUD agreement.
Frost listed the benefits of this development, which include increased municipal parking, additional storefronts and office space, the extension of downtown’s streetscape and more people living downtown.
To Frost, that last one “is key.”
He envisions condo owners returning home at the end of the day, tired from their jobs and their commute, and heading downtown to grab a bite and do some shopping.
Frost noted Weckle’s proposed project also gets these DDA parcels back on the tax roll. As government-owned property, they are not subject to taxation via millages.
The DDA bought these three properties in 2001 and 2002 for a total of $585,000. All three had houses and backyards at the time. The backyards were later split off and converted into public parking, while the houses were moved. The properties currently total 0.34 acre.
There was much discussion regarding the proposed additional parking.
“I think that’s really one of the major selling points of this project,” said Jim Sharpe, president of the Oxford-based Sharpe Engineering, who’s working for Weckle.
Village Planner Chris Khorey, of the Northville-based McKenna Associates, said the additional 58 spaces would help “ease” downtown’s “parking crunch” during “peak times.”
“That’s the idea behind this,” he said.
But Chuck Schneider, a local developer who owns numerous properties in the village, expressed his belief that Weckle’s proposal lacks the necessary parking and doesn’t meet the requirements of the village’s ordinance based on his calculations.
“How can you conceivably build a project of this magnitude, which is very nice, very costly, but it’s not fulfilling the requirements of the parking ordinance at all? Not even remotely close,” he said.
“If this is the precedent you want to set, I’m fine with that. When I come to you with my next project, I want the same consideration,” Schneider added.
Khorey noted he has not yet had an opportunity to do a “full analysis” of the parking situation, but will have it done for the next planning commission meeting.
Khorey indicated because restaurants are considered “parking hogs,” the proposed PUD agreement currently includes language that if any of Weckle’s buildings contain eateries, it will trigger the village’s payment-in-lieu of parking requirement.
According to the village zoning ordinance, if a property in the C-1 Core or Transition zoning districts (i.e. downtown) cannot be developed in a way that provides the required amount of off-street parking, the owner has the option, upon request, of paying the village $6,000 for each parking space that it’s lacking.
Funds derived from these payments are supposed to be deposited in a special village parking fund and “expended exclusively” for “planning, designing, acquiring and/or developing off-street parking facilities” in the municipality, according to the ordinance.
The only other concerns about Weckle’s development were raised by Moser and those were primarily based on issues that could arise from him living next door to the 22,800-square-foot building.
Moser wants to make sure the dumpster area is moved so it’s not located so close to his bedroom window.
He also requested that “something substantial” be built to separate his property from Weckle’s site.
“Landscaping is nice, but it’s not substantial,” he said.