By CYNTHIA KMETT
If you moved to Troy 40 years ago as a new college graduate with a job at DuPont or Kmart Headquarters, finding an apartment would probably mean you would be living in the Somerset Apartments. New apartment complexes were not a priority in Troy, until Holtzman-Silverman showed up in the ’80s and made the city change its mind.
But if you move to Troy in the next year or two, there will be a number of places to choose from in the city. There’s an eight-story luxury apartment approved for Wilshire Drive that will be attached to the garage under construction on 888 W. Big Beaver.
Or maybe you’ll select a home in the complex under construction on the former home of the Barnard family on Livernois, just south of Square Lake.
We make no promises on when the Amber Apartments on Livernois at Troy Center will be available, but they’re going up, too. And Amber has a site on the southern end of Livernois, north of Maple, that is also site plan approved for building.
One complex that was already approved by the Planning Commission last July is a large complex of 362 units, also on Livernois just south of the MJR Troy Grand Theatre, to be built by S.R. Jacobson Development. But while they were making plans and doing engineering drawings, they noticed other apartment complexes that looked a lot like theirs. They wanted something edgier. So last week, they came to the Planning Commission, not with a different layout, but with a different look, a darker look. Now the buildings in Midtown Place would be basically dark gray and white, with those elements moving around on different buildings for diversity. They also changed the flat roofs to hip roofs.
Most of the planners liked the new design, a few preferred the original look, but the change was approved and they are expected to start building in July.
Speaking of apartment complexes, there’s a new proposal, which is just a concept at this point, for the 15.7 acres on John R between the Kroger/Sports Center Plaza and the Raintree Subdivision. It includes the land behind the San Marino Club, too.
The owners of the property, the Bostick family – who also own the Sports Center Shopping Plaza as well as John R Springs – has had the property in the family since 1967. The concept plan was presented by Dennis Bostick at the Planning Commission. While there was no site plan presented, the developer just wanted to know what the Planning Commission thought of the idea. While there was some question as to whether this was too dense for the site, which would require a zoning change to UR (urban residential), the parcel had once zoned for senior housing, which has a higher density than apartments.
“Neighbors are not usually thrilled about high-density buildings going up next to them,” observed Planning Trustee Karen Crusse. She noted they would say it would invade their privacy, lower property values, bring crime and more traffic. (Planners hear these arguments all the time.)
Privacy concerns shouldn’t be an issue, as the apartments that would abut residential are only two stories, and the ones against the Kroger parking lot would be three stories. But traffic was a concern, as some planners wondered how residents could get out when there was only one exit and traffic on John R can be heavy. However, once you hit the Kroger parking lot there are lots of ways to exit this complex, both to John R and to Big Beaver, which might be where some folks would be heading to work or the freeway, it was pointed out. Plus, interestingly, that entrance into the Kroger lot is an actual Troy street.
Planning Director Brent Savidant pointed out to the planners that the site “probably isn’t suitable for single-family homes.”
And the Architect noted they plan to create “beautiful vistas” in a totally walkable environment. The plan calls for one, two and three-bedroom apartments, and many garages. The apartments are all on one floor, ideal for seniors, but sorry no elevators. Crusse also warned them “that design is going to matter,” not just to the abutting residents, but to the planners.
Planning trustee Padma Kuppa observed they might want to see if the intersection would warrant a traffic light, and added she assumed a traffic study would be forthcoming. It will. There will be a new traffic light in the front of the Sports Center, hopefully by summer, to allow the folks in Automation Alley to walk to lunch. And, yes, they will take the ideas to all the neighbors, Bostick promised. “We have a reputation in town and we don’t want to diminish that reputation. We’ll do exactly what we say we’re going to do.”