by CYNTHIA KMETT
There won’t be any luxury apartments on the site next to Kroger on John R and Big Beaver, nor will there be a new hotel on the Rochester Road site north of I-75 that you might recall as a Halloween store, at least not immediately.
And they might not get approved at all. Both were up for approval at the Troy Planning Commission last week, and both were postponed for changes the planners considered necessary. The developers noted they had been working with city staff for over a year to bring these projects to fruition.
The applicant for the luxury apartments, John R Commons, is Troy Sports Center, LLC & JSD Real Estate, LLC, which seeks a conditional rezoning of the subject parcel from MF (Multiple Family) District to UR (Urban Residential) Zoning District.
The petitioner, Dennis Bostick, who owns the land and the Sports Center, which his family lived on starting in 1957, said it was necessary to have this many units to build the kind of luxury apartments he envisioned. Bostick promised the planners, “We don’t intend to do anything that is not top notch.”
But the planners and some Raintree Village residents said the problem was two-fold. First, the new zoning would allow apartments, when the current zoning only allows 118 units, which is just too many they told the planners. Second, the traffic study indicated that The John R Commons development will add a modest amount of trips to the area roadways.
Since only North Lake Drive and Crimson leave that subdivision to John R, and that’s not easy now, they told the planners this looks like a looming problem for Raintree residents. They think that there will have to be a light on Nancy Bostick Drive (which we think of as the driveway to Kroger), and Orpington residents directly across John R from Kroger agree. The apartment site is projected to generate 101 new trips during the morning peak hour and 125 new trips during the evening peak hour. Troy’s traffic consultant, OHM, however, stated in its report that they didn’t like to recommend traffic signals when the only warrants (requirements) that are met are in peak hours.
Safety in getting out of the proposed site was yet another concern. It is estimated that 45 percent of new residents will want to go to Big Beaver, either east or west. Yes, to go west they could come out of Nancy Bostick Drive and turn right at the light. Or, they can cut in front of Kroger and go out as they pass the drugstore. There is also a light at the other end of the Sports Center, and you can easily reach it by driving around the ice rink. This center has lots of traffic all day long, residents pointed out, and at the back of the Sports Center is where parents drop off their kids for ice skating. It’s not safe for cars or people they told the Planning Commission.
As long as they had concerns, they added the already-crowded Barnard Elementary School. They said more students would probably mean converting art and music rooms to classrooms. They were reminded that the Troy School District is currently building a new Early Learning Center on Square Lake behind Niles to relieve all the elementary schools of daycare obligations and programs for preschoolers.
There really was no concern among the planners or residents on the proposed architecture for the John R Commons, as they are very attractive. They just think there are too many of them proposed. Springhill Suites by Marriott on Rochester Road, between Henrietta and Owendale, was up for consideration, too. It is proposed as a five-story, 123-room hotel. It originally was laden with E.I.F.S. (Exterior insulation and finish system), as all Marriotts are when they are first presented in Troy.
Stellar Hospitality Troy noted that all been replaced except for a bit of trim. That did not, however, make the planners like its looks. It was, as several planners pointed out, plain and boring.
“This just doesn’t do a thing for me,” Planning Commissioner Tom Krent said of the building. Height was another big issue. Five stories seemed a bit much for the planners, especially when the streets impacted were part of older neighborhoods with homes averaging under 1,000 square feet. This is a particularly difficult site to develop, as it has three front yards, and in the Big Beaver formbased zoning, the building needs to be just 10 feet from each of those roads.
Traffic was another consideration here. No one really knows exactly how the I-75 entrances and exits on Rochester will work when reconfigured. Of course, there is a light now at I-75 that has a no turn on red sign, but will it stay or will it go? This project, too, was postposed for revisions and pictures that showed how it would look in the intersection where the tallest building at the intersection is now just two stories.