COVID's Effect on The dot
If you’ve recently passed by the Development on Troy—or The dot—mixed-use parking development-in-progress, you’ve likely noticed that the usually bustling site is quiet. Construction on the project has been paused since March 23 in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which mandated that work on non-essential construction projects be halted.
This has led to some questions from the Ferndale community, mainly centered around when work will resume and how the timeline and project will be impacted as a result. While much remains unknown at this time, the City is happy to answer questions as we’re able. We have information to address a few of our frequently asked questions below; we invite you to contact us directly with additional questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will work resume? How will the project’s timeline be impacted?
We simply don’t know enough to be able to answer this right now. We can say that work will resume promptly as soon as the executive “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is lifted, and when that happens we will work closely with our construction and design teams to reassess and release an updated timeline.
Will plans be changed to accommodate the effects of COVID-19 on our economy?
When construction is resumed, our efforts will shift to focus on completing the public portion of the project—including completing and opening the parking structure, reopening West Troy Street, completing the downtown compactor enclosure, and finishing alley improvements. The mixed-use components of the project—including street-level retail and fourth-floor office—will shift to secondary priorities for the time being.
If office and retail are important components of The dot project, why are you considering them secondary priorities?
It’s important to note that all elements of The dot are equally important to the future success of the completed project. It's not a matter of if they'll be completed, but when. With that said, we are seeing some of the effects of the economic decline due to COVID-19.
- Street-level retail space—which was in strong demand in the pre-COVID economy—is going to be temporarily harder to fill. Small businesses are working to maintain what they have, and loans from the recovery package are not intended for new business opportunities but for current businesses to recover. Our goal is to pause until our local economy has a chance to recover and hopefully fill The dot’s retail space in spring of 2021 (versus this fall).
- Like retail, office space will be difficult to fill in the current climate. Until the economic condition stabilizes, banks aren't likely to invest in office space, and companies that were looking to expand are temporarily suspending growth plans.
On top of this, our developer’s lender—who approved the financing for The dot investment prior to COVID-19—now deems the economy too risky and has pulled their loan terms with the developer and suspended their financial support for the private portions of the project—the office, retail, and future residential spaces.
While the financial aspects are a reality we must deal with, we also understand the critical importance of getting the parking deck completed and W. Troy St. opened. We will forge ahead and make this happen; to do so, we will seek a temporary short-term loan from the City’s fund balance, to be repaid from the Auto Parking Fund, which brings in revenue from parking fees and tickets. Terms will be determined and presented to City Council in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, City project leaders are working to renegotiate the development agreement based on these realities with a focus on amending timelines to deliver residential, retail, and office, as well as to gain financial reimbursement commitments.
Who do I contact about questions?
As always, we invite you to contact us with any questions or concerns by phone at 248-546-2525 ext. 125, and by email at email@example.com.