River Caddis Development, based in East Lansing, envisions a 124-unit apartment complex on the Maxfield Training Center property in Farmington, a place that “feels like home”.
Editor’s note: Last week, four firms interested in redeveloping the 3-acre Maxfield Training Center property in downtown Farmington each made their case to city officials. This is the second of four articles on those presentations, which were based on responses to the city’s Request for Proposals (RFQ).
Director of Development John McGraw told city council members January 7 that the company has developed projects in seven states, from industrial and retail to multifamily and mixed use. He said the team has experience with brownfield developments, community engagement, and versatile sites.
McGraw said the company will work with community, as the project will be something neighbors and stakeholders will look at for 40 years or more. “We need to be proud of it, and the neighbors need to be proud of it.”
River Caddis’ concept includes three, four-story buildings housing 124 market-rate apartments on the 3-acre property. Wayne Chubb, of Hobbs and Black architects, said the primary idea behind the concept is connectivity.
Plans call for closing off access to Warner Street and making that a trailhead or pocket park for use by residents and the community. Pedestrians would have two paths down to Shiawassee Park; one using the existing staircase and the other, a trail coming in from the west side of the property.
Two of the three buildings, which are smaller, would sit along Thomas and School Streets. The larger building, on the east side of the property, overlooks the park. Chubb said those are “just ideas”, and the company would work with stakeholders on a final plan.
“The design is what we think we can do today,” McGraw said. “We have a long way to go… and we can’t do this alone.”
Luke Bonner, of Bonner Advisory Group, said he has also worked with GLP Financial Group to redevelop the Farmington State Savings Bank on Grand River. He said he has had “an extremely good experience” with the city.
“When we engage the community, we really come with a blank slate… we come in completely open,” he said. “After we go through the community engagement process, it’s always better in the end.”
The River Caddis project, Bonner said, would create an opportunity for 180-200 residents, with incomes in the $50,000-$60,000 range. He said renters typically spend $2,000-$3,000 annually in their community.
Bonner said apartment rents would rank above the city’s average market rate. The plan calls for studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units.
“Research suggests you’re ripe for this because it doesn’t exist,” he said. “These are unique and different, so rents are going to be higher.”
Council member Joe LaRussa noted that almost half of Farmington’s housing stock is multifamily and asked why the company felt the local market could sustain another 124 units.
“There’s no multifamily product directly in your downtown,” Bonner said. “The site has amenities you can’t replicate anywhere else.”
McGraw said River Caddis wants to build a community and create a sense of place, which will appreciate property values all the way around. Bonner added that the Maxfield site is considered obsolete.
“Once we remove the economic obsolescence,” he said, “that will have a positive impact on the surrounding properties.”