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Frenchtown Development Follow-up

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I attended the city commission meeting that resulted in the vote to defer the sale of the city’s parcel on Macomb St.  A vote on the sale of that property is still pending.  I strongly urge you to watch the video of the citizen discussion.

I attended the city commission meeting that resulted in the vote to defer the sale of the city’s parcel on Macomb St.  The site, if sold, would become part of a large (900 bed) student housing facility.  The city’s parcel is .87 acre, about one-fifth of the block on which the facility would be built.

While there are different views on what is appropriate redevelopment of Frenchtown, the voices of the Frenchtown residents were quite clear:  they did not have sufficient input and the proposed development violates the historical and cultural context of Frenchtown.  For our own understanding of that sentiment, I strongly urge you to watch the video of the citizen discussion that runs from 36:33 to 1:18:10 on the video.  I think you’ll come to learn, as I did, that there is a new spirit in Frenchtown.  Instead of division, unity; instead of regret, resolve; instead of despair, hope.  Still, no one is saying the “old” Frenchtown will come back or that a historically-consistent development will be easy.

Comms. Miller and Richardson were ready to vote for the sale due to the tax incremental financing it would provide for redevelopment of other areas of Frenchtown.  However, Comm. Maddox changed that momentum by advocating for retail and correcting broken promises from the past.  Mayor Gillum gave direction for the defer option by stressing the need for a new engagement among all interested parties to reach a consensus on what the development should be and how it could better fit with Frenchtown.  Comm. Ziffer advocated for a broad plan to guide Frenchtown redevelopment into the future.  All commissioners recognized that if the developer wanted to go ahead with the development not using the city parcel it is their legal right to do so under the current zoning.

The staff presentation and commission deliberations are very informative.  The staff presentation runs from 2:01:00 to 2:23:27.  The commission deliberations and vote runs from 2:23:27 to 3:15:56.



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