Big Beaver landscape due for a facelift

Kurt Bovensiep, public works director, speaks at a City Council meeting on June 28, 2021, while Glenn Lapin, economic development specialist, looks on.

City Council approved a plan aimed at landscaping projects along Big Beaver Road at its meeting Monday.

In this context, the term “landscape” refers not just to greenery, but also crosswalks, lighting, signage and other elements of public spaces, said Glenn Lapin, economic development specialist.

“I think we’re in a really good place (following) a generational improvement like I-75, and then we’ll follow up with our landscaping, which I think will work out well for the next couple decades,” said City Manager Mark Miller.

Much of the landscaping on Big Beaver has been “disrupted” due to the past years’ I-75 construction, said Kurt Bovensiep, public works director, and has reached the end of its “useful life.” 

The Big Beaver corridor is a “very, very harsh climate” for landscaping due to salt spray, Miller said. 

“Many landscape materials just can’t survive in that environment,” he said. 

Lights on Big Beaver tend to last about three years, while in a more moderate environment they would last five, Bovensiep said.

The city is looking for a qualified consultant, proficient in salt-spray environments, to consult community members and design the landscaping, Bovensiep said.

With an improved financial position, the DDA is looking for “flexibility” to start spending on landscaping for the district, which is centered around Big Beaver.

Over the past year, the DDA was able to add about $7.2 million to its finances by refinancing debt, according to councilor David Hamilton.

The DDA’s finances were further bolstered when the Somerset Collection last year paid it back for about $4 million it invested in the mall’s north parking deck.