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WIXOM, MI-The city known for its friendliness to industrial space users has now launched plans to create a large mixed-use Downtown area to cater to all its new workers. The city is about 25 miles west of Detroit, and is currently the most popular area for new industry to locate; the city is seen as the new drive west for new industrial space along the I-96 corridor.

With its new success and increased taxes, the city has seized on a move to build a residential/retail area, essentially creating a Downtown and its suburbs from scratch. Wixom officials recently agreed to put out a request for proposals for developers to build on a 30-acre parcel that should be the powder keg to new development. The parcel is surrounded by about 300 acres of developable land, much of which the city rezoned for residential and mixed-use properties.

The city’s former Downtown was built at the corner of Wixom and Pontiac Trail roads about 100 years ago. Little remains of the retail area, save a few rundown buildings. In December, the city officially amended the city’s land use plan and an ordinance to create what they call the Village Center, a wide swath of property near the city hall that could include residential subdivisions, retail and commercial uses.

The city owns about 125 acres of various parts of the property, including a large 60-acre park. Most of the rest of the city land would stay public for infrastructure, says City Manager Michael Dornan.

He says the entire property development that the city envisions will most likely cost between $80 million to $125 million to build, including costs for roads and other infrastructure.

“We’re a great location for industrial development,” Dornan tells GlobeSt.com. The city houses a Ford Motor Co. assembly plant on its southern border. “Now we’re creating the village, residential areas to accommodate the jobs that have come our way.”

The city should receive solicitations from developers by this fall, and choose a project by next summer. Construction could begin in two years, Dornan says.

About 900 single-family and town-homes could be built around the retail/commercial downtown center, directly across from the current city hall on Pontiac Trail. Recently, the US Postal Service just built a facility next to the property.

The idea, says Dornan, is to create a “walkable Downtown,” where resident homes and businesses would be interspersed and designed to be both pleasing to the eye, and feature low density and low traffic. City officials will have strict control over what the project will look like, per the ordinance.

The redevelopment promises to boost the city population of 13,500 by about 10%, assuming 1.5 persons per household. The development should take at least 20 years to complete, Dornan says.

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