Northville Township officials heard the words they longed to hear Thursday evening when the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a lease deal with REIS of Bloomfield Hills to locate a 100,000 square-foot ambulatory center on a parcel of land along Seven Mile Road.
Township Supervisor Mark Abbo said he was informed of the vote and some of the details of the deal this afternoon, and after the dearth of development along the property, was overjoyed with the news and the potential shot in the arm for the community.
“I’m thrilled with this,” he said. “This was the kind of anchor that we need for this property, and we hope it will spur more development. It’s great that they chose Northville Township.
"After the brutal recession of 2008, this is a sign that things are finally turning a corner," he added.
The 25-year lease will include an option to expand the project an additional 100,000 square feet, making it possible that the project could double its initial size, said Abbo. The supervisor added that he believes the property will be located on a portion of an 82-acre parcel owned by REIS near Haggerty Road.
Ambulatory care centers are typically outpatient medical facilities that perform some surgery, rehabilitation and other services, but are not hospitals in the traditional sense. Though there has been much conjecture by officials and residents about the potential uses for the Seven Mile property. Township officials believe the care facility could be the heart of a burgeoning medical corridor for the township.
“I love the concept (of a medical area),” said Abbo. “It’s different, and it goes a long way to diversify our business base beyond retail and residential.”
Trustee Christopher Roosen said he’s happy to have some activity at the Seven Mile site.
“At first we thought we’d have all kinds of uses there, but having someone like U-M come in with a project like this is fantastic,” he said. “Right now, hospitals and universities are the only entities that are building, and to get a university medical facility is the kind of development we need.”
One thing that will not occur as a result of the new care center is the demolition of the long-closed Northville Psychiatric Hospital, which has been the bane of residents and officials who would like to see the property re-invigorated by development.
Abbo said he hopes increased activity in the area will eventually lead to the building’s demolition. “Hopefully, we will see the demolition of the building so we can get a brownfield (development) going and clean up the property,” he said.
Though the decision to sign the lease was made earlier today, the township could provide few details about when ground would be broken, the specific services to be offered at the center, how many medical and construction jobs it would provide, or how many beds would be available at the facility.
Those are details that will likely be revealed at the planning commission, which expects to see a site plan sometime this spring, Abbo said.
Roosen, who made sure to say “Go Blue!” before the meeting adjourned, also represents the township board on the planning commission. He said that approvals could be in place very soon, or take a long time.
“It’s going to depend on what they want to do,” he said. “But I know I’m very excited to see the plan.”