The Broad St. redevelopment project is not dead, says Michelle Aniol, Dexter’s community development director, but the city has severed its relationship with Foremost Development Company of Birmingham. Dexter and Foremost were looking at putting a complex of three- or four-story apartment and commercial buildings on the old industrial site overlooking Mill Creek, on Broad between Forest and Grand, which the city bought in 2012.
Aniol says the parting was “amicable. Both the city and Foremost worked diligently to come up with a concept,” but in the end there were “too many challenges.” In the time Foremost and Dexter were working together, three public hearings were held, citizen comments and concerns were considered, and Foremost proposed two possible site plans. But Foremost had conditions that Dexter hadn’t foreseen.
“Foremost wanted a reduced tax millage,” Aniol says. “Legally, the city can’t reduce property taxes.” Foremost also wanted the city to waive or reduce “tap fees”–the cost of hooking into its sewer and water systems. Dexter couldn’t do that, either.
Third, she says, “Foremost wanted to pay nothing for the land.” The city paid $1.3 million for the onetime DAPCO site. “We realistically can’t get back what we paid for it,” but at the very least, she says, Dexter wants any developer to pay for removing the small brick DTE substation on the property.
The six-month dance with Foremost was an exploratory agreement called an “RFQ” or Request for Qualifications. “We wanted to go through this process and see what the public wanted,” Aniol says. Though it didn’t work out, she says, the DDA “gained a great deal of knowledge”–knowledge she is now using to draft a more formal Request for Proposals.
Yet to be nailed down is the density of any possible redevelopment. “It was master planned for high density, but it comes down to the design, how it lies on site,” Aniol says. “Is it complementary to downtown? Do the private and public spaces interact well?” She says there will be several more rounds of public meetings.
Construction on another site will begin soon. Grandview Commons, a seventy-six-unit condo development at Baker and Grand, got final approval from council on January 23, and will break ground in late spring. The developer, MMB Equities, also built the Dexter Wellness Center and pharmacy buildings.