City Council 9/9/08: festival and Woody Plaza

Klein asked for a resolution of condolence to Sander Levin on the passing of his wife, Victoria. Klein asked for resolutions congratulating the Hamtramck Housing Commission and their executive director on becoming a high-performer.
Cooper asked for the addition of two additional items. First, an agreement with Cunningham Felthouse & Hayes, insurance adjusters, and second, hiring of Johnson Control for electrical repairs at City Hall.
Public comment
Robert Zwolak was concerned about the vacation of the alley behind Shoppers World. He asked for an update of what the cost will be, and an impact statement of how it will effect the surrounding area.
Majewski said they would talk about it later in the meeting. Zwolak said if they don’t have an update of the cost, the council should wait for the true cost and an impact statement before approving it.
Public hearings
No one spoke during a hearing on the brownfield redevelopment plan for Woody Pontiac.
Alley vacation: Steven Cherry said that alleys have been a part of public life for thousands of years. Alleys are public spaces that belong to the citizens. Vacating alleys is contrary to modern urban planning practices. In cities like San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver, alleys are centerpieces of urban revitalization. Hamtramck is doing the opposite by giving them away. Alleys are used as pedestrian capillaries and contribute to healthy urban life. Vacating alleys can’t be undone, and are part of a troubling trend of privatization of urban spaces.
Michigan law requires that “if the lots on opposite sides of the vacated street or alley belong to different proprietors, title up to the center line of the vacated street or alley shall vest in the respective proprietors of the abutting lots on each side.”
I, Hillary Cherry, also objected to the vacation of the Joseph Campau alley between Yemans and Evaline. There are no engineering plans for the required sewer work, and property owners deserve to know what the plans are for their utility lines.
Under our zoning ordinance, plans for “all utilities located on or serving the (project) site, including sizes of water and sewer lines” are required for preliminary site plan review by the planning commission. There is no evidence that these plans were ever provided.
Final site plan review under our zoning ordinance requires site engineering plans prepared by a registered civil engineer, including the proposed grading and drainage plan and all utilities located on or serving the site. According to the minutes of the planning commission, the required plans for drainage and utilities were not provided.
The only plan the city was able to provide of the sewer was created by AT&T. It appears to me that if the proposed vacation of the alley is approved, the sewer serving Polonia, Polish Village Cafe, and many other residents of Evaline and Yemans will be bulk-headed behind Polonia Restaurant. Property owners on Evaline and Yemans will likely have more flooding in their basements. They have not been provided with the utility plans so that they may comment during this hearing or other public comment periods.
I asked that as council people, they demand to see plans for the utilities to be sure that the property values of the existing buildings are protected prior to vacating the alley.
Unfinished business
Labor Day festival: Gordon initiated the resolution waiving the cost of the festival and Polish Day parade, but wanted to table it until the total for police overtime during the festival and accounting from the Chamber of Commerce was available. The Chamber believes the city agreed to absorb the cost for the last 2 years. There was no second on Gordon’s motion to table. Stackpoole and Gordon voted against it, but Ahmed, Klein, and Shulgon voted for it and the resolution passed.
All voted for the consent agenda.
New business
Woody Plaza: Ron Boji, President of Boji Group in Lansing, said that his company was the winner of a bid for construction of a new regional DHS office by State of Michigan. They intend to demolish the dilapidated Woody Pontiac building, and build an office building with parking for 175 cars. They hope to start work in October and complete the LEED certified, Class A building within 9 months.
The state will have a 21-year lease on the building. The city is walkable and the project is on the main bus line. They are not asking for any city dollars. They are applying through the city in order to be eligible for the Michigan Business Tax. They also work closely with Wayne County and the Land Bank Authority.
The building will bring 59 new employees and retain the 100 employees of the Denton Street office. Thousands of people every week will be coming in for services.
Gordon thanked Boji and hoped the city can accommodate him. She appreciates that the development is called Woody Plaza. She knows people on the North End will appreciate it. Boji said we can thank his 10-year-old daughter who thought it best to name the project after Mr. Woody. All voted in favor of the plan.
Klein asked if the site plans were approved by the Plan Commission. Boji said the plan would be considered the following day. Klein saidit had been two years since the state announced the closing of the Denton Street office and a town hall meeting. There were no bidders for the project the first time around, and Boji was recommended by the Cities of Promise people and Allen, the city attorney. Klein said that this was the beginning of a partnership that he didn’t think would end with this building.
Majewski repeated that this would be a regional office serving more people that just those served by the current DHS office. Klein said that many immigrants are located in Hamtramck because of the DHS office and walkable city according to organizations like ACCESS, ACC, and Wayne Metro. Other agencies would leave if the DHS office closed. All voted in favor.

One thought on “City Council 9/9/08: festival and Woody Plaza

  1. The city should update the ordinance to require that all new commercial buildings are LEED certified and give incentives for Silver, Gold and Platinum buildings.

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