Southfield previews ideas for Northland site

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Southfield  — Officials previewed ambitious plans that include retail, residential, office space and a “Central Park” pond Tuesday night for the shuttered Northland Mall, which was bought by the city last year.

Southfield residents listen to Forest Gibson, an OHM Advisor, following the presentation Tuesday.

The purpose of the “Imagine the Possibilities” public hearing was not to reflect on the mall’s iconic past, but for officials and planners to present their vision and receive public input on what people would like to see incorporated in plans for the 121-acre site that cost $2.4 million.

“I flipped when I first saw these plans,” Southfield Mayor Ken Siver said. “And from everyone I’ve talked to tonight, they felt the same way. This is going to be something the whole city will be proud of when its done.”

When that will be remains a big question. Siver said there are details to be completed: business transactions on existing properties; ongoing environmental studies and of course the matter of what will be torn down and what will remain. Fifteen demolition companies have responded and he expects they will be looking for potential developers to invest by October.

Siver described the concepts as the city’s “master plan” for the site.

OHM Advisors, a Detroit-based architectural engineering planning firm, presented architectural renderings showing portions of the mall and surrounding acres redeveloped into retail, residential and office space.

The OHM concepts include:

■ Reuse of the original J.L. Hudson’s building and the mall’s power plant.

■8 to 10 acre “Central Park,” with a pond, benches and walking, biking and hiking paths.

■Converting 34 percent of the propertyinto 850 residential units, including apartments and townhouses.

■125-room hotel.

■185,000 square feet of new retail space.

■170,000 square feet of medical office space.

■Assisted living center and a wellness center.

■An entertainment district with nightlife and restaurants .

The 60-year-old mall closed in February 2015 and was bought by the city in 2015, so the city would have more control over its development. The citywill demolish and sell the property to a developer.

“We have talked with several developers — 50 this afternoon,” Siver said. “Providence Hospital is expanding and looking for parking, housing for staff, off-site medical offices and restaurants for employees. We think we can deliver all of that and more.”

Removal of the mall is estimated at $8 million to $10 million, the cost also to be borne by the city.

The site is located north of Eight Mile, west of Greenfield Road, east of the Lodge Freeway and south of the city’s “Golden Triangle” of five skyscrapers. .

Harold Hill, a 26-year resident, said: “I’m glad to see the city getting in front on this with planning and not just sitting on the property.”