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TROY, MI-While the city administration has garnered support for a $251-million public/private project on the civic center property, the city council still has to approve a request for proposals this month. The city’s Downtown Development Authority has presented a plan thatIncludes $165 million in projects funded by private business, and an investment of $86 million in projects funded by the public sector.

The DDA believes the site should have a conference center of 100,000 sf to 250,000-sf, a hotel with up to 400 rooms, a 100,000-sf office building, a 5,000-seat performing arts theater, up to three restaurants and up to 6,000-sf of retail. Public spaces would include an amphitheater, water elements, landscaped festival areas, a skating rink, trails and benches.

In October, City Manager John Szerlag met with DDA Chairman Alan Kiriluk, chairman of office developer Kirco, and local politicians to try to garner state money for the project. The elected officials included state Sen. Shirley Johnson, state Rep. John Pappageorge and County Executive L. BrooksPatterson, head of one of the richest counties in the country.

The project will have to be fleshed out completely before the state will offer help, Szerlag says.

“While support for this project was unanimous” between the elected officials, Szerlag says, “it was not without contingencies.”

Szerlag says Johnson and Pappageorge made it clear that any request from the city had to be definitive in terms of site plan components, as well as capital and operating sources from the private and public sectors.

Previously, Pappageorge has indicated that because of the slow economy and state budget cuts, large city projects may have to wait. However, Patterson doesn’t agree.

“Patterson said he was willing to commit approximately $1 million of Oakland County funding, because of its positive impact for the 500 or so companies” in the area, Szerlag says.

Johnson, who chairs the subcommittee on appropriation that oversees the public/private Michigan Economic Development Corp. budget, has suggested a meeting with the corporation’s chair, Doug Rothwell, may be in order.

Szerlag is confident the city won the first round.

“I now believe the DDA subcommittee has met its charge by obtaining support for state funding for a conference center,” Szerlag says. Now, the city manager says, the city council is asked to approve an RFP and actual funding mechanisms can be discussed.

The council is expected to vote on the RFP at its Nov. 18 meeting. A few council members have indicated distaste with using city dollars for private development.

The city has been trying for at least a decade to build something on the 190 acres between the city hall and Livernois Road. About 50 acres are buildable, says Doug Smith, the director of real estate for the city.

A large portion of the $86 million must include a state contribution of $40 million to $50 million, according to the DDA.

The city and the DDA will also need to contribute $7 million for infrastructure, be willing to sell about 11 acres of the property and publicly own the conference center.

The city has been through a few RFP’s before for the site, but the council has not been able to decide on what should be built. In March, the city was > still trying to figure out how to build the $75-million conference center.

The site already features the city hall, police and fire stations, the library, a community center, an aquatic center and a nature center.

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