Farmington Hills city officials on Monday approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) and site plan for a Rose Senior Living Community on 11 Mile east of Middlebelt Road.
The council met and held a public hearing on the project electronically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campus is owned by the Sisters of Mercy, who purchased the property in 1960. Mercy High School moved from Detroit to the property in 1965, and retired Sisters moved to the McAuley Center in 1984. The City of Farmington Hills in 1993 purchased a portion along 11 Mile for the Costick Activities Center.
Sr. Mary Ellen Howard said the group no longer needs the buildings and 53-acre property that are being sold to Edward Rose & Sons.
“We have less than 40 sisters living on the campus,” she said during a public hearing on the project. “We can no longer manage it, nor can we afford it.”
Mark Perkoski, Director of Land Acquisitions and Planning for Edward Rose & Sons, said the company plans to build 207 apartments that offer independent and assisted living. The company also plans to open a memory care facility in Catherine’s Place, a skilled nursing home on the site.
Amenities in Rose facilities typically include exercise rooms, dining rooms, movie theaters, beauty salons, transportation, and more, Perkoski said. Rents will likely run from $3,500 to more than $7,000 per month, depending on the level of care. The 1- and 2-bedroom units range in size from 900 to 1560 square feet.
“These will be some of the largest apartments available in the market,” Perkoski said.
While the property’s zoning allows for senior apartments, city consultant Rod Arroyo said the company pursued a Planned Unit Development because “they’re looking for some creativity and relief to provide for development on a fairly complex and compact site.”
Plans call for a four-story independent wing with 117 apartments, a three-story assisted living wing with 90 apartments, and core services in the center of the complex. The height of both wings exceeds what’s allowed in zoning ordinances; 54 feet and 41 feet, respectively.
The agreement would allow the developer to “land bank” parking spaces they consider unnecessary, with an agreement to build them if the city determines the spaces are needed.
“We have found that this use generally requires a lower level of parking,” Arroyo said. “We would be surprised if the land bank parking would ever have to be put into action.”
The agreement would also allow for a larger maximum floor area ratio, a number calculated using the floor area of the buildings and the land area, and relief from internal setback requirements, Arroyo said. Buildings will occupy about 15 acres; most of the site will remain undeveloped under a conservation easement.
Plans move the buildings away from the adjacent Farm Meadows subdivision and expand an existing buffer, Arroyo added.
“The nearest building is over 480 feet from the east property line. So there’s substantial separation from the single family residential dwellings in the subdivision,” he said.
Only one resident commented during the electronic meeting. Mary Willer said she lives near the site and had not heard about the proposed development. She opposed the development, saying traffic from the high school already backs up on 11 Mile Road.
“I realize the sisters might be struggling right now, but I think that should be made into a natural area for everybody to share,” she said.
Council member Jackie Boleware, who voted against the PUD, said she was concerned about the building height. She said senior housing proposed a mile west, at 12 Mile and Middlebelt, was approved with two stories.
“When you look out the subdivision to the west, you can’t see any buildings,” she said. “With construction of this building, it will change the landscape for those residents… Right now, that’s just open land.”
Boleware also raised concerns about the increased maximum floor area ratio and the size of entrance signs that would include both the Rose Senior Living and Costick Center names.
Perkoski said the entrance sign, with two identical, internally lighted panels, would be 7-feet-9-inches tall and 16 feet wide, including a masonry base. He said it would replace an existing masonry sign on 11 Mile Road.
Arroyo noted that most buildings on the site were obsolete and would be demolished. A chapel to which many local residents have a sentimental attachment will be preserved, he added.
“That’s one of the benefits associated with the PUD,” he said. “It’s not being demolished and not something of significant use to the applicant.”
Final approval included access easements, a requirement that the applicant repair any construction damage to the entry road off 11 Mile, and the signage only at the eastern entrance, plus requested internal signs.
Next up, the city attorney will draft a PUD agreement for review by council members.
Watch the full discussion: