The Downtown Development Authority, a group made up of the stakeholders who have property in the DDA Zone on Big Beaver Road, are working with the city and OHM, a community advancement firm to upgrade the five miles of Big Beaver Road considered the vibrant center of Troy.
“I think that the project is an important one for Troy,” said Troy Mayor Ethan Baker. “We don’t have a traditional downtown but we do have the Downtown Development Authority, which is kind of unique. Our focus really is our central business hub at least as it appears to the region, state, country and even the world, which is our Big Beaver Corridor.”
OHM Advisors, brought on the project in January, is researching its clients’ wants and needs.
“We’re really in the early stages of the project but the first step is to really understand the goals and priorities of the client, which in this case, is the city of Troy,” said Chris Riggert, OHM project manager.
“We have a working list of objectives that are sort of a limiting list that are going to evolve as we go through the project as we learn new things, as we hear from new stakeholders. We also kicked off our inventory analysis phase, which is really our due diligence to investigate the corridor from a variety of different lenses. This is OHM’s approach because we are multidisciplinary, and we have so many trades under one roof, we are able to take a lot of different perspectives to look at things.”
The OHM team is speaking with the third major group in the project, the DDA’s stakeholders.
“Interfacing with critical stakeholders is really important. We as a consultant know the city quite well, but there is some time we need to take to learn what the corridor is really like, and the experts in that arena are really the people who own businesses, who own buildings, and who work on a daily basis on the corridor. We have had two meetings so far, the first was with the Chamber of Commerce, we met with their hospitality working group and we also met with a development firm called Kirko.”
City leaders estimate the project to be completed in 2024.
The project was sparked by a desire to ensure the outside of Troy’s different corporate buildings look as appealing as their insides. The rent for office space in Troy is on average, higher than in most cities in Michigan.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity to make a statement as to how much we value this corridor in our city,” said Baker. “From an aesthetic standpoint it’s important to have it look like the high-end area that it is, especially for businesses. Rents are especially higher than some of the cities so it needs to look like that, not only in the building you’re paying a lot of rent for but when you’re driving to it. It’s important that it has a strong aesthetic piece.”
City officials’ main challenge in the pre-planning stage of the project comes when addressing concerns from those who are not DDA zone residents.
“We have always been faced with a challenge when explaining what the DDA is to residents that aren’t in the DDA, and why they do have an elevated level of maintenance compared to the rest of the city,” said Kurt Bovensiep, Troy’s public works director.
The DDA captures taxes that fund the improvements needed for the higher traffic area that lies within the zone. The project hopes to find a way to carry certain elements of the DDA’s image beyond the borders of the zone, to areas of Troy that are outside of the designated area. The cost of the project is unknown in the preliminary stages.