The prison was leveled to the ground this summer. Township officials, like Supervisor Robert Nix, see the property as a gateway to the community and the Five Mile corridor.
"The Five Mile corridor is in the future," he said at a meeting Wednesday in Northville Township Hall.
The corridor includes the 54-acre former prison property and the township's adjacent property on Five Mile Road from Beck to Napier roads. The area has easy access to M-14 and I-96, and it won't interfere with the residential communities because it's on the township's fringe, he said.
Jennifer Frey, the township's community development director, discussed the potential for the corner property to complement the technology park directly east on Beck Road.
"That is the only property that is zoned for technology in Northville," Nix said.
He said a business development offers less strain on the township than residential property because the area wouldn't require as many public services, like schools. No one on the planning commission or the board of trustees favored residential development for the site. Trustee Mindy Herrmann said whatever is built should be something to which nearby residents will want to walk.
"I think the residents should feel some benefit of it," she said.
There is one hurdle that may cause problems with the township's plans. Michigan has repurchase rights on the property, meaning it can buy it back for $1 if the township doesn't use the land for a public purpose. Nix said he hopes to have that resolved in the next couple of months. If it doesn't work out, the township will have to find the property a public purpose or sell.
Citizens' ideas for the property brought up at the meeting include:
- retail like a Whole Foods store
- upscale restaurants
- no big box stores
- splash pad similar to Canton Township's