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Fenton DDA Investigating Development Possibilities for Its Property at Silver Lake Road and LeRoy Street

Council supports DDA's contracts with two consultants who will help Fenton explore options

With city council's support, the Fenton Downtown Development Authority is investigating possibilities for property it owns at the southeast corner of Silver Lake Road and LeRoy Street.

A possibility is a mixed-use development, which could include retail, restaurant and office space on the first level and residential on second and/or third floors, said DDA Director Michael Burns.

In three to six months, with two consultants working together, city administrators hope to know whether something will happen or not, City Manager Lynn Markland said.

The DDA board approved hiring Jerry Mansour as a consultant, at its May 17 meeting, but needed city council's support. After discussion, council supported it 6-0.

Mansour will assist with negotiating possible deals with developers and provide expertise on tenant and real estate issues. His contract is for 18 months, at $3,000 per month, Burns said. The DDA will provide the first three months of his fees up front.

Mansour will receive payment for months when his services are needed, since it's possible the development could take place faster than 18 months or there will be periods of time with no action, Burns said. The DDA would not pay in these types of situations.

Councilman Tim Faricy said he is pleased, since Mansour's expertise is excellent and he will be a great help. Faricy asked about updates on his efforts, for city council.

Burns said that is a very good idea, and updates can take place at council work sessions. City attorney Stephen Schultz said he and Burns discussed how they need to keep council and the DDA informed, although some real estate, development and trade secret issues could be involved.

Faricy also asked about specific items the DDA wants Mansour to achieve during the 18-month period.

Burns said Mansour will be under contract, and there will be terms of the contract he needs to meet and guidelines for both parties.

In addition, with council's 5-1 vote of support, the DDA is hiring architectural analysis services from Stephen A. Auger Associates, for $7,500. The DDA made its decision at its May 17 meeting.

Stephen A. Auger Associates will assist with determining what type of building or buildings will fit on the site the DDA owns at the corner of Silver Lake Road and LeRoy Street, Burns said. The DDA considered two architects Mansour proposed for the contract and he, Markland, Mansour and the DDA chairman interviewed both.

The interviewers believe Auger and his firm are most suitable, he said. Auger has experience with a mixed use downtown building in Auburn Hills that is very similar to what officials envision for the Fenton site. Although Auger was not the low bidder, Burns said he believes the DDA needs him, and that is what the DDA board approved.

Councilwoman Dianne North voted against the contract, saying there was a large difference in price between Auger's firm and the other architect.

Councilman Benjamin Smith said he agrees about the cost, but he read the DDA's information on both firms and everything he read pointed to Auger's firm. In addition, the DDA is paying for the architectural consultant and its board approved it.

"It behooves us to have confidence in our DDA," Smith said.

North asked when the Auburn Hills project was completed. Upon hearing it was in 2004, she said things were a lot different then. She questioned whether Fenton should bid out the architectural contract.

Professional services do not require a bidding process, Markland said. In addition, the DDA accepted the contract and it was coming to council for final approval, Mayor Sue Osborn said.

Auger said he and his staff are excited about Fenton's project and have done several like it. "This definitely has the most potential I've seen."

Osborn asked about the building in Auburn Hills. It's completely rented out, and a developer bought it from Auger's private developer client, Auger said. The city of Auburn Hills provided the parking for the development.

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