Affordable housing construction among new projects for Ferndale in 2022
By MIKE MCCONNELL | firstname.lastname@example.org | Royal Oak Tribune
PUBLISHED: December 16, 2021 at 4:09 p.m. | UPDATED: December 16, 2021 at 4:12 p.m.
On the horizon of the New Year in Ferndale, city officials are looking to see construction completed on the first affordable housing development in the community.
City Manager Joseph Gacioch said the four-story, 53-unit project at 503 E. Nine Mile Road is only a few blocks from City Hall.
The project is being done by Full Circle Development, which is getting tax abatements from the city and $13 million in funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
“This was approved back in June,” Gacioch said. “Full Circle specializes in affordable housing. This is important because the City Council created an affordable housing policy. Essentially, that means if the city is going to deliver on tax incentives, developers have to deliver on affordable housing.”
City officials see the coming development as a poster project and emblematic of what Ferndale wants to encourage for people to have affordable housing options.
“It’s important because the cost of living across the region has increased,” Gacioch said, “and affordable housing isn’t going to be market driven.”
Ferndale’s tax break incentive gives the affordable housing development annual tax abatements for 45 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays on some of the key projects Ferndale expects to make progress on in 2022.
One of the biggest infrastructure projects is the Woodward Avenue road diet that Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge have pursued, which remains in the hands of the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The biggest part of the road diet would affect frontage along Woodward in Ferndale.
Gacioch anticipates a decision as early as next month on whether the road diet will be developed.
“The state feels positive about it and they are collaborating with engineers to finalize designs with what we’ve requested,” Gacioch said. “It’s not final at this point, but an announcement is expected in 2022.
If approved, bike lanes would be added on the east and west sides of Woodward, and the avenue would be reduced from a total of eight to six lanes of vehicular traffic. The pedestrian crossing at Woodward and Nine Mile Road would also be improved.
There has been some opposition from those who see no need for more bike lanes and fear the road diet will cause traffic backups.
“But it would be a night-and-day difference in safety improvement for our downtown,” Gacioch said. “We don’t want people driving 65 mph through our downtown.”
Other city efforts that will affect residents quality of life include local roads, of which six miles will be improved in the coming year, and replacing water lines to homes that have lead service lines on the homeowner’s property.
A state loan of $10 million allowed Ferndale to accelerate the rate of replacing lead service lines in the city.
Ferndale and nearly all cities in the region have lead service lines the state has ordered them to replace at a minimum rate of 7 percent a year. Ferndale replaced 10 percent this year and is set to replace 12 percent in 2022, Gacioch said.
Improvement projects are coming to city parks next year, as well.
Ferndale is constructing its first splash pad for children in a project at Martin Road Park, which officials hope to have completed by the next Fourth of July weekend. It’s a $500,000 project that has been delayed, in part by the pandemic.
The city got a state grant of $68,000 to install more pathways at the park, which is the largest in the community.
Beyond that, Ferndale got a $168,000 state grant for new playground facilities and pathways at Wilson Park that will be done at a later date, Gacioch said.