Farmington wants a chance to buy Maxfield Training Center

Greater Farmington Founders Festival

In a move that surprised trustees, Farmington city officials on Tuesday asked Farmington Public Schools (FPS) for a chance to purchase the long-vacant Maxfield Training Center property in downtown Farmington.

FPS Director of Facilities Management Jon Riebe said during a Building & Site/Safety committee meeting that AC Acquisitions, which has tried for nearly three years to put multi-family housing on the site, recently asked to terminate a purchase agreement in its fifth extension.

The district will receive half of a $20,000 deposit in return for regaining control of the property. Superintendent Dr. George Heitsch said the company could have tried to “flip” the property to another developer had the latest extension continued through its June expiration date.

“I think we’re just ready to move on,” Riebe said. “It’s been a journey.”

Farmington Mayor Steven Schneemann presented the district with a letter dated Tuesday that asked for 45 days to put together a proposal to purchase the 3-acre property on Thomas Street. He said the site is a “key location” between Shiawassee Park and downtown Farmington that could be used by the city to enhance the connection between the two.

Heitsch suggested that officials get a legal opinion on the letter and work on a parallel track to craft another request for proposals from private developers. Trustees could decide whether to grant the city’s request at their May 7 study session.

Trustee Jessica Cummings, an attorney, said she was not comfortable making a decision on the request before the May meeting.

“It’s just not making sense to me that we would terminate now so we can move forward and then wait 45 days,” she said. “I am interested in working with the city and see what the city has to propose. Procedurally, (moving forward) just doesn’t feel right to me.”

Committee chair Terry Johnson noted his previous objection to the sale of Harrison High School to the City of Farmington Hills for $500,000 and told Schneemann the district “does not just run on goodwill,” but needs money to purchase buses and pay teachers.

“I’d like to see a very reasonable proposal come back that takes those things into consideration,” he said.