Northville Township awaits unveiling of master plan for former hospital site

Posted on January 25, 2012

The master plan for park development on 414 acres of land in Northville Township — the site of the former Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital — is to be unveiled Thursday.

The property is at 7 Mile and Haggerty roads. A portion of the site will be developed into a retail area, scheduled to open in 2013, and a University of Michigan hospital facility, scheduled to open in 2014.

“You’ve got a major U of M hospital facility, you’ve got a future retail lifestyle center, and you’ve got a park that would be Northville’s version of Central Park,” said township resident Joe Vig, a commercial contractor specializing in green building who volunteered to work on the park’s development committee.

Vig and his family, which includes three children, live in the Northville Trails subdivision just south of the property. The unveiling is the culmination of months of planning by township officials, residents, architecture students and a Canadian-based planning firm.

Township residents approved a $23.5-million bond in August 2009 for the township to buy the land.

Jennifer Frey, the township community development director, said the park plan calls for demolishing the psychiatric hospital, which has been a draw for trespassers since it closed in 2003. The township hopes to have people using the park by 2021, Frey said, with some areas possibly becoming accessible sooner.

Frey said the plan includes attributes most wanted by residents, but she declined to release specifics or a map of the park before the unveiling. In a November online survey, residents said they wanted hiking trails, naturalistic ponds, running trails, ice skating and paved multipurpose paths.

The plan also avoids the least-desired attributes ranked by the survey’s 918 respondents: architectural features, baseball and soccer fields, and a community building or other revenue-generating features, Vig said. Those are already offered in the area, he said.

“I think that people are going to be very happy with it,” Vig said. “It has a real focus on passive recreation, in terms of walking trails, bike trails, that sort of thing. But it’s such a large piece of property, it’s adaptable over time.”

The U-M Board of Regents on Thursday approved a $39-million, 100,000-square-foot health center near the intersection of 7 Mile and Haggerty roads.

Planning is expected to begin in March. In addition to primary and specialty care, the health center will offer musculoskeletal, eye, radiology, cancer and medical procedure areas.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Frey said, describing the hospital proposal a natural transition from the retail development to the park area.

“I think it’s a good use for that property,” she said. “And certainly the University of Michigan will be a good corporate resident in the community.”

The hospital will be part of the 550,000-square-foot project that includes retail shops and restaurants, developed by Livonia-based Schostak Brothers & Co., according to the firm’s website.