Somerset Golf Course Remains Open

by CYNTHIA KMETT

Fear not, the nine-hole golf course at Somerset Park Apartments is not going to be rezoned and turned into new apartments. The course is zoned R-1C and George Sumnik, representing the owners has asked for a zoning change in April to MF (multi-family). While Sumnik told the Troy Planning Commission it was to build a new administrative/leasing center and that there was no intent to change the golf course, the planners weren’t too sure. It seems you can’t build a leasing center in residential zoning parcels.

This is a 39-acre parcel and could instantly become quite buildable. Sumnik noted that plans included a new pro shop, terraces and indoor storage for the golf carts. Needless to say, planners wanted the residents notified and even suggested that they might want to consider conditional rezoning, which locks in what can happen on the land. The item was tabled.

Well, it was back last week, and in an entirely different form. Somerset Park was now asking to just rezone 1.32 acres of the 39-acre parcel for the new building, with the golf course staying right where it is now. The improvements will still happen and a new snack bar will be available, too. This change made it much easier for planners to give their approval. They still have to come back for site plan approval for the building, and Planning Trustee Tom Krent suggested that since it’s so close to the Somerset Collection, perhaps some matching elements might be in order for the new building.

Since this course is open to the public, go and enjoy.

Not as easy for developers was the idea of two more Troy hotels: The four-story, 91 suite Staybridge Suites from Intercontinental Hotels and a five-story, 138 room Holiday Inn Express, complete with banquet space. Where are these new hotels proposed to be built? In the parking lot at 900 Tower Drive, which is the 15- store office building at the corner of Crooks and I-75 on the east side of the street.

First, the city and the planners didn’t like the idea of the hotels at the back of the present tower and thought they should be out on Tower Drive, which is the street that leads to the Embassy Suites.

The property owner, Kajaian Management, however, said that they had worked with the mortgage holder, Pacific Life, in the past on where to build (they thought about building back in 2007, but the recession halted those plans) and the only place Pacific Life would allow building was behind the big building. In the end, planners didn’t think the hotel developer, Amerilodge Group, or maybe Kajaian, had worked that hard on changing the location and wanted them to go back for more talks on location.

But that is hardly the big hang-up here. These two hotels leave the site way, way short of parking spaces, 361 spaces short. While it was proposed to land bank 93 spaces in front of the 900 tower building, that still leaves the development 175 spaces short. While the Holiday Inn will have reception space, the proposed restaurant has to apparently be downsized, but that won’t free up 175 spaces.

This is part of the “shared parking” dilemma that the Planning Commission has faced in recent months. As property owners with lots of empty parking spaces came to ask to build outlots on their property, sufficient parking spaces have been a hot topic for the planners. Outbuildings at 888 Big Beaver, the corner of Big Beaver and Rochester, Columbia Center and even on Wilshire for hotel behind the strip mall have given the planners heartburn. This is just another case where hotel guests will be driving through office building parking lots and the planners express concerns about the safety of doing this.

But this one is very short of spaces and the city’s own traffic consultant, OHM, was not agreeing with the developer that there would be enough spaces here, especially if it comes time to move snow, or people who take up two parking spaces. The OHN report indicated that the parking lot would be at 100 percent capacity.

And, if they add the trees required in a parking lot to make it less of see of cement, they’ll lose more parking spaces.

The developer disagreed and said the office building, which is only 50 percent occupied now, and would not ever reach 100 percent capacity would probably top out at about 75 percent occupancy and have plenty of parking.

Representatives of Embassy Suites were not so supportive. They are worried any overflow would migrate right into their parking spaces. That would be easy since the two lots already have cross access between them.