Farmington mayor looks forward to MTC, streetscape

Sara Bowman
Sara Bowman (Contributed)

One thing more than any other has Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman looking forward to 2020.

“One hundred percent, the Maxfield Training Center,” she said. “We are really on the cusp of having the vision in place for 10 years come to fruition.”

Bowman got into her first city council race four years ago largely because of her interest in the fate of the property, which features prominently in both the city and downtown Master Plans.

In April, private developer AC Acquisitions terminated a 2016 purchase agreement with Farmington Public Schools, after putting forward several multi-family housing proposals. FPS trustees in June accepted a $750,000 purchase offer from the city, which plans to pursue private development.

Bowman said the agreement is not final. “It’s a very complicated piece of property, and it’s a slow-moving process, but it’s happening… That will open up the downtown to Shiawassee Park and bring the whole city together.”

Farmington Road streetscape

A long-delayed streetscape project is also expected to move forward in 2020, and Bowman believes the reconstruction will do for Farmington Road what a similar project did for Grand River 10 years ago.

“Look what Grand River has transformed into,” she said. “If you build it, they will come.”

Even though the questions she gets are most often about vacant downtown storefronts, Bowman said the area isn’t as empty as it may look.

“The storefronts are very visible, but we are 90 to 95 percent occupied,” she said, crediting Downtown Development Authority Director Kate Knight and Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen for their recruiting efforts. “I can assure people, they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. Farmington is a good place to do business.”

‘A fiscally responsible town’

With high praise for all city staff, Bowman sees Farmington on a secure path forward, despite the potential threat of another recession. She said officials recently received a positive financial forecast from city treasurer Chris Weber.

“So far, it feels like we’ve poised ourselves to have some security,” she said. “This is a fiscally responsible town. It looks like we’re in a good place.”

Born and raised in Farmington Hills, Bowman said the biggest change she has seen in the community is a growth in diversity. She believes people are drawn to Farmington, in part, because of its central location.

But the city also has a special quality, one that’s more difficult to define.

“It has a unique character,” Bowman said. “There’s just something stamped on Farmington. You know when you’re here.”