Category Archives: Downtown

Consultant: Downtown Farmington parking operates at ‘maximum capacity’

On a Saturday morning when the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market is in full swing, does it seem like there isn’t a parking spot to be had in downtown Farmington?

Andrew Vidor, representing Walker Parking Consultants, told members of the City of Farmington Parking Advisory Committee Thursday that parking capacity isn’t just at a premium – it’s stretched to the limit. By 12 p.m. on a Farmers Market Saturday last October, demand for parking exceeded capacity by 60 spaces.

On weekdays, parking hits 64 percent of capacity overall, leaving 202 spaces open. On weekends, nearly three-quarters of spaces are taken, leaving 134 across the central business district.

“That’s a 37 percent increase since 2008,” Vidor said.

Breaking down the numbers shows public lots at 87 percent of capacity on weekend nights. Vidor said opening new restaurants or other types of businesses in the few available storefronts could quickly change the picture. The system, he said, is operating at “maximum capacity.”

“It’s a good problem to have for a downtown,” Vidor added. “It means the downtown is vibrant. People want to be here.”

Time limits

The city commissioned the study to update a 2008 Walker report. Since that time, downtown Farmington has undergone some dramatic changes, from increased attendance at the Farmington Civic Theater and Farmers Market, to the addition of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and several restaurants. In addition, the city implemented time-limited parking in some public lots.

Vidor said studies showed that the vast majority of people parking in time-limited lots stayed longer than the 3-hour limit. No more than four percent parked four hours or longer. There were no violations on time-limited, on-street parking spaces.

“That’s a very high compliance rate,” Vidor said.

The study concluded that “non-compliant parkers… are likely employees of downtown businesses who either are not being ticketed or who are legally beating the system” by moving their vehicles to different spaces or lots. Recommended strategies included an ordinance that defines “re-parking,” expanded enforcement in the Fresh Thyme parking lot (where three percent of parkers violate the limit), increased enforcement in lots north of Grand River, and continuing to provide parking information to employees.

While the report did not identify a “silver bullet,” it did outline one possible solution: a three-story parking structure.

Next: How and where might the city add parking in downtown Farmington? 

Farmington considers new rules to stop downtown parking “shuffle”

Farmington city council members took a look Monday at new rules designed to penalize people who skirt downtown parking time limits.

While officials agree the problem exists, some feel amending the parking ordinance may create some unintended consequences.

Forwarded by the Parking Advisory Committee, the proposals would prohibit moving vehicles from one space to another and removing chalk marks applied by parking enforcement officers.

“Car shuffling” happens in lots north and south of Grand River, Public Safety Director Frank Demers said. “Our previous parking enforcement officer and our new officer have reported it’s a very common event.”

Further, he said, the officers identified “shufflers” and those removed chalk marks as employees of downtown businesses. Council member Greg Cowley, who owns a downtown restaurant, confirmed those observations.

“It’s the same employees and the same businesses,” he said. “My employees walk and see them every day. For me, it’s become a management issue.”

While Cowley wanted to see violators pay a $25 penalty for the new infractions on top of a $25 ticket, council member Sara Bowman disagreed. She said the proposed new rules would also affect a customer visiting a business on the north side of Grand River in the morning and the south side in the afternoon.

“If we really are talking about this being an employee issue, I’m not on board,” she said. Bowman suggested more employee education and posting better signs and a map that shows timed and untimed lots.

Mayor Pro Tem Steven Schneemann agreed with Bowman.

“My experience has been that the more attractive and desireable a place is, the more Draconian the parking rules can be,” he said. “I don’t want to become so overbearing that people start to say, ‘I don’t want to go to Farmington.’.”

Schneemann also saw a difference between someone shuffling a vehicle between lots and deliberately erasing a chalk mark placed by an officer.

“I think we shouldn’t be surprised that no matter what legislation we put forth, people are going to try to find a way around it,” he said.

City administration will present a revised draft of the new ordinances at a future council meeting.

MDOT gets okay to work nights, weekends on 2017 Grand River project

A major road project that will stretch along Grand River through downtown Farmington should move a little more quickly now that city officials have agreed to allow work during nights and weekends.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will mill and resurface Grand River from Sinacola to Purdue Street, reducing portions of the road from four lanes to three, adding parking spaces east of Grove Street and a bike lane between Shiawassee and Farmington Road. The project also includes concrete repairs, installation of signals, and bringing sidewalk ramps up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

In a memo, traffic operations engineer Courtney DeFauw said MDOT is “trying to minimize the overall impacts to the downtown Farmington area” by limiting lane closures to off-peak hours and working around special events.

The project will move east in four stages:

  • Sinacola Street (near Sellers Buick GMC) to Shiawassee Street
  • Shiawassee to Farmington Road
  • Farmington Road to Grove Street
  • Grove Street to Purdue Street (east of West River shopping center)

MDOT expects “minimal” night paving in the residential area between Shiawassee and Farmington Road. In addition, DeFauw wrote, the contractor will use static rolling, which reduces noise.

While multiple lane closures will affect all segments, MDOT will restrict work during Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends. All sidewalk ramps from Shiawassee to Power Road will remain open to pedestrian traffic for the Memorial Day parade in May and Art on the Grand in June. MDOT plans to remove traffic controls between Farmington Road to Grove Street during the annual art festival.

Lane closures near downtown will also be limited during the Founders Festival in July and the Harvest Moon festival in September.

City officials pointed out the need to ensure that information about the wide-ranging project spreads throughout the community.

“I think all the residents need to be notified about what’s coming up this summer,” council member Steven Schneemann said. He suggested a message included with city water bills. “Communication is really important to make sure that people aren’t blindsided by this, and they know that everything is still open for business and Grand River will remain passable during that time.”

Council member Sara Bowman said it’s important to remember the outcome, despite the inconvenience.

“This is a really cool project. It’s adding that bike lane. It’s adding some parking aspects, and it’s necessary,” she said.

While no firm dates have been announced, bid letting information in a meeting agenda posted on the State of Michigan website indicates the project may begin in mid-April.

Farmington council to staff: Get tougher on persistent code violations

Farmington officials on Monday gave city staff members a clear directive: Get tougher on business owners who leave buildings vacant and unkempt.

The discussion started last month when mayor Bill Galvin complained about the former Hershey’s Ice Cream store on Farmington Road, vacant for several years. The owner of an adjacent restaurant leased the space in order to expand, but has not pulled permits to begin necessary renovations, Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said.

Meanwhile, the store’s dust-covered windows have long exposed a space littered with equipment and other items. Christiansen said the city has begun court proceedings to force code compliance, but council member Greg Cowley said the case has lingered far too long.

“We cannot sit for another summer and watch the garbage pile up,” he said.

Cowley complained that customers who sit on the patio of his family’s restaurant on Grand River have a clear view of the building and ask him what is wrong with Farmington. He said the city has a “fiduciary duty” to protect the value of the central business district.

“I’m looking for a little tougher code enforcement,” he added.

City manager David Murphy said Farmington has only eight “problem children” among its hundreds of business properties.

“That is fantastic,” he said. “I think you have more tools than most municipalities do.”

Anticipating problems with the economic downturn, the city in 2009 beefed up its zoning ordinances. Tools available include a property maintenance code and ordinances that address vacant buildings and blight.

Murphy said code enforcement officer John Koncsol works with business owners, even those the city has sued, to clean up properties, but there’s nothing the city – or any municipality – can do to force owners to fill vacant properties.

City attorney Thomas Schultz said district court judges want to see a long record of efforts to work with businesses before taking them to court. And council member Sara Bowman said she didn’t want Farmington to become known as a city that “strong arms” tenants.

Council member Steven Schneemann suggested a different approach, one he believes would have business owners beating a path to the doors of those vacant buildings.

“I think we need to make our community vibrant and attractive and businesses will want to locate here,” he said.

Holly Days: Gifts and Greens Market, Santa, movies and more

Santa arrives in downtown Farmington December 3, during the annual Holly Days celebration hosted by the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce. Here’s what you’ll find during this holiday season kick-off:

Santa Claus
Santa heard Christmas wishes last year from Levi Nelson, 6, of Farmington Hills.
Gifts & Greens Market

The day begins with a special holiday farmers market, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion. Michigan farmers will offer fresh made wreaths, greens, roping, holiday centerpieces and firewood bundles, and local artisans will offer Michigan-made products. A donation to Farmington/Farmington Hills Neighborhood House will get you a free cup of fresh house-made chili from Page’s Food & Spirits.

Free movies

Support the Farmington Area Goodfellows’ drive to ensure no child or senior in our community goes without a Christmas when you attend a free moving showing at the Farmington Civic Theater. “Miracle on 34th Street” shows at 10 a.m. and noon, and “Shrek the Halls” plays hourly starting at 10:15 a.m. and ending with the last showing at 1:15 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy, pantry goods or monetary donation; in addition, half of all concession stand sales will benefit the local charity.

Santa and Mrs. Santa visits

Santa will listen to children’s wishes from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., by the fireplace at the Farmington Garage on Grand River just east of Grove St. Focal Point Photography Studios will offer free professional photos to take home.

Also during that time, find “Storytime with Mrs. Claus” at the Farmington Community Library Farmington branch, 23500 Liberty St., and an “Elf Workshop” for kids, at the Greater Farmington Chamber of Commerce, 33425 Grand River. (Be on the lookout for live reindeer!)

Santa at Governor Warner Mansion
Santa stops at the Governor Warner Mansion during Holly Days 2015.
Light Up the Grand

At 6 p.m., a lighted parade will step off from Warner Street and Grand River, featuring music, dancing and floats. Free hot chocolate will be served by Pathways Christian Counseling of Farmington Hills at the Masonic Temple, starting at 5:30 p.m. Follow the parade to the Governor Warner Mansion for the annual tree lighting ceremony with Santa. Free tours of the mansion will be yours with a donation to the Salvation Army bell ringers.

Farmington event helps families choose the right dog

Canine College in Farmington Hills, and Farmington Brewing Company and Browndog Creamery and Dessert Bar in downtown Farmington, are teaming up for an informal dog training talk December 5.

Held at Browndog, 33314 Grand River, the 7 p.m. event will feature Canine College’s training director, C.J. Bentley, on the topic, “Growler, Howler or Yowler? How to Choose the Best Dog for You and Your Family.”

For tickets and more information, call Canine College, 248-427-8245; Browndog Creamery and Dessert Bar, 248-615-2955; or Farmington Brewing Company, 248-957-9543.

Essential Family Chiropractic volunteers deliver holiday meals

Last year, clients and staff at Essential Family Chiropractic in downtown Farmington delivered Thanksgiving meals to 25 families served by Farmington/Farmington Hills Neighborhood House.

The effort went so well, that Alyssa Zeglen, D.C., and Natalie Nedanovski, D.C. decided to bump their goal. Last week, 18 cars delivered turkeys and boxes and cans of food to 50 local families. Zeglen said Loretta Zahn, client support specialist with Neighborhood House and a patient, introduced them to the local nonprofit.

Essential Chiropractic
Volunteers pack and wrap Thanksgiving dinner baskets at Essential Chiropractic in Farmington.

“We do outreach during the year, especially in our local community,” Zeglen said. “We want to focus on our immediate area.”

Patients contributed both food items and cash, then volunteers gathered on November 18 for a light dinner, then packed festive, decorated baskets for delivery that evening. Last year, Essential Chiropractic received thank you notes from all recipients, but the greatest reward, Zeglen said, was meeting the families.

“That’s really special,” she said. “You really make that connection.”

Alan Maxey, president of the Neighborhood House board, said the economy has picked up, so while the number of clients served this year has remained about the same, their needs are greater.

“These are people who are much worse off,” he said.

Volunteer Terri Hanson said Neighborhood House still sees new clients who are facing evictions, utility shut-offs, and other emergencies. In addition, a program that provided certificates for fresh produce at this year’s Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market also created some new awareness and brought in some clients.

Essential Chiropractic
Suzanne Deglen of Novi, mom of Essential Chiropractic doc Alyssa Zeglen, took charge of wrapping Thanksgiving meal baskets.

Zeglen said Essential Family Chiropractic plans to make the Thanksgiving project an annual event. In 2017, they’ll be coordinating delivery from a new 4,000-square-foot space in the Downtown Farmington Business Center, next door to the Post Office.

“We hope to really expand this next year,” she said.

Learn more about Essential Family Chiropractic at efchiropractic.com. Learn more about Neighborhood House at farmingtonareagoodfellows.org.

 

Correction: Essential Family Chiropractic’s business name was incorrectly reported in the original version of this post. Also, Alyssa Zeglen and Natalie Nedanovski are Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.).

Downtown Farmington lures Small Business Saturday shoppers

To celebrate the community’s small and local shops, Downtown Farmington will host an Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on November 26, in honor of Small Business Saturday.

American Express created the event six years ago to encourage shoppers to go small, giving up the big box stores, and see all that small businesses have to offer. Many downtown Farmington merchants and small businesses will offer specials, discounts, and complimentary items.

Among participating businesses are Bellìs Therapeutic Spa, Clothes Encounters, Dagwood’s Deli, Mother Mary’s Toffee Company and the Village Shoe Inn. Visit downtownfarmington.org for a complete list.

“When you support your local small businesses, you keep more money in your local economy, you support local jobs, and you celebrate the uniqueness of your local community,” said Valerie Greer, DDA Small Business Saturday Committee Lead. “One small purchase can make a big difference.”

For more information, visit downtownfarmington.org, follow Downtown Farmington on Facebook and on Twitter @DntwnFarmington.

Oakland County has a special promotion on Small Business Saturday as well. Shoppers supporting small businesses in Oakland County can enter to win one of three prizes – $5,000, $2,000 or a $500 travel voucher on Southwest Airlines. Get the lowdown here: oakgov.com/advantageoakland/Pages/ShopSmall_Contest_Rules_and_FAQs.aspx

Press release

Farmington Great Lakes Ace celebrates with chain cutting

Farmington Great Lakes Ace Hardware, the newest addition to The Groves shopping center in downtown Farmington, kicked off its grand opening celebration November 18 with a chain cutting ceremony.

Hosted by the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, the event marked the first public appearance of new Chamber director Mary Martin, whose official first day of work is December 5.

Great Lakes Ace Farmington
Farmington Great Lakes Ace Hardware manager Brandon Stewart, right, shakes hands with Habitat for Humanity Oakland County Executive Director Tim Ruggles.

Following the chain cutting, Great Lakes Ace store manager Brandon Stewart announced an effort to support Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, which helps people gain stability and self-reliance by building or improving homes.  Customers can purchase a Great Lakes Ace bucket for $5, and proceeds will go directly to the nonprofit, which also operates a ReStore home improvement outlet on Grand River in Farmington Hills.

Downtown businesses celebrate two-year anniversaries

They’re almost twins.

Two downtown Farmington businesses that opened within days of each other in November of 2014 will celebrate anniversaries this weekend. Farmington Brewing Company, at 33336 Grand River, and The Cheese Lady, at 33041 Grand River, have each planned two days of special activities.

Partners and former home brewers Jason Hendricks and Jason Schlaff, along with Schlaff’s father, Gary, opened the craft brewery’s doors on November 15, 2014. This weekend, special food vendors will serve up sliders, tacos, and sub sandwiches, and the Brewing Company will bring back its popular Pig Roast on November 12, with kid-friendly service between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Learn more on Facebook: facebook.com/events/262494344147206/.

The Cheese Lady, opened by Farmington Hills residents Joe and Kendra Mantey on November 13, 2014, holds its celebration November 11, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and November 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with demos, prizes, and gifts with purchase. Representatives from McClary Bros. Vinegars and Woodberry Wines will be on hand Friday and Saturday, respectively. Learn more on Facebook: facebook.com/events/1174076229328796/.

Disclosure: Farmington Voice publisher Joni Hubred-Golden is employed by The Cheese Lady.