TROY, MI-The city council here added a caveat to a zoning change it approved for aproposed $55 million, 13-story office complex this week. The council insisted residents receive a copy of the site plan for the new 300,000-sf building as soon as they are given to the city.

Residents council members want to ensure that Burton-Katzman Development Co. doesnot raise the height of the building or the accompanying three-story parking garage.

The council agreed to change the zoning for almost two acres of land the developer has assembled as part of a 5.5-acre parcel to build the office building. The zoning was changed from research center use to high-rise office, which does not have a low limit on the allowed height of the building.

“We want to make sure that the company doesn’t just get this approval and then change everything on the site plan,” says councilwoman Robin Beltramini.

The company has signed an agreement with the nearby homeowner’s associations that it will not go over the agreed upon 13-story height.

Beltramini was also concerned this new development will add too much space to a market that’s suffering. Vacancies are increasing for all markets, especially office, and Troy is the largest office market in the Metropolitan Detroit area.

The city’s vacancy rate for commercial properties has increased into double digits to almost 12%, though that amount is lower than the 20% to 30% vacancies that other cities are seeing.

“With office vacancies rising, I’m concerned about increasing density in this area,” Beltramini says.

Burton-Katzman paired with Sterling Bank and Trust of Southfield to buy the land at I-75 and Big Beaver Road. The parcel is across the street from the 25-story Top of Troy building, the largest building in the city, and is surrounded by the top Southeast Michigan office developments, including Kirco’s 500,000-sf Columbia Center I and II about a half-mile east of the site and Kojaian Cos.’ recently-opened Troy Corporate Center two miles to the northwest.

Craig DiMaggio of Burton-Katzman says the location is exactly why the project will succeed.

“This location is likely the best in the Southeast Michigan area,” he adds. “We’re confident the market here will continue to grow.”

DiMaggio says construction would likely not begin until late next year, with completion and opening sometime by 2004.

Sterling Bank would occupy almost 50,000 sf of the property and would lease out the rest to other tenants, DiMaggio says. He assured the council it is unlikely that construction would even begin unless a marketing strategy was able to drum up enough interested users.

Much of the 5.5 acres of land was purchased by Magna International Inc., a Canadian automotive supplier. Magna built a facility on part of the land, but did not need the entire parcel.

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