Potential developers share vision for new civic center

CINDY MUROFF

Mar 24, 2021

Two developers with ties to White Lake presented their concepts for the new civic center at joint meetings between the White Lake Board of Trustees and the Civic Center Development Committee.

Two developers with ties to White Lake presented their concepts for the new civic center at joint meetings between the White Lake Board of Trustees and the Civic Center Development Committee.


River Caddis Development of East Lansing shared its vision for a holistic approach to development at a February 22 virtual meeting. John McGraw, director of development for River Caddis, described a focus on “the discovery of place.” He said, “White Lake Township has a strong sense of place and we would like to cultivate that and make it even stronger. We focus on the community; the folks who live here care about where they live and we want to enhance that.”

Working with River Caddis would be Plante Moran Cresa and the New York-based Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit that prides itself on community “placemaking.”

McGraw, who has family in White Lake, concluded his presentation by saying, “We are intrigued by the mixed-use development of the civic center project and know we can create long-term value.”

A second virtual presentation on February 23 was given by Gershenson Kirco, a joint venture between Troy-based Kirco and Farmington Hills-based Gershenson Realty & Investment. Joining them on this project to build townhouses on the civic center campus would be Robertson Brothers of Bloomfield Hills.


Gershenson Realty & Investment is responsible for many investments and developments in the township, including transforming the former Kmart into Kroger and the former Kroger into Hobby Lobby and Ulta Beauty; the Walmart expansion; and the redevelopment of Farmer Jack into Joann Fabrics and Bed Bath & Beyond. Most recently, the group was involved with the Village Lakes Shopping Center, across the street from the planned civic center.

“We have a unique understanding of the demands of the White Lake marketplace,” said President and CEO Bruce Gershenson. “At the time we were developing Village Lakes, we had extensive discussions with the board about a future vision for a municipal complex. We even built the utility infrastructure to accomplish that vision one day and we are excited that we could possibly be chosen to finally make this a reality.”

If selected, Gershenson said his group would look forward to the opportunity to acquire the existing township hall property and eventually the fire department on M-59. “We believe strongly in this area,” he said. “Our commitment to White Lake has never faltered.”

Several dozen firms were invited to respond to a formal Request for Qualifications, and three responded. “We are moving forward conceptually with these two in hopes that we will find a strong match,” said Sean P. O’Neil, AICP, White Lake Township planning director. He expects the process, and committee discussions, to go on for many weeks or possibly months.