Royal Oak officials have approved the construction of a 32-unit apartment building on the site of a former oil company outside the city center, but some neighbors are against it.
The Delaware apartment project at 230 E. Harrison and Delaware Streets would be 51 feet tall where there is a partial fourth floor, with parking for residents on the ground floor.
Gabe Rubin of the Royal Oak Development Company purchased the 21,420 square foot section of land one block northeast of Holiday Market four years ago.
City commissioners on Monday approved a Planning Commission recommendation to rezone the land from a mixed-use to a planned unit development – a more flexible type of single-site zoning with requirements – to allow the project to move forward.
One of the city’s requirements was that Rubin include two units in the building to be set aside as affordable housing or for the county’s Veterans Assistance Program.
About a month ago, Rubin asked the city to drop the affordable housing requirement in a letter.
However, he withdrew that request on Monday in front of city commissioners.
Architect Brian Howard of HF Architects in Royal Oak said the building will include electric car chargers for residents who request them, a roof terrace and a roof garden that will absorb up to 50% of water storms.
“I think it’s a very good project,” said Mayor Michael Fournier, who added that he liked that the contaminated land had been cleaned up.
There are two condominium complexes and another apartment complex within two blocks of the Delaware development.
Although Rubin won the unanimous support of city and planning commissioners for his apartment development, nearby residents raised questions about the density of multi-family units.
“It’s going to bring in more people and more traffic,” said Michael Thompson, architect and president of the nearby Lawson Park Homeowners Association. “It’s a small field that can handle 12 units, and they want to put 32 units there.”
Several people have written letters to the Planning Commission with concerns about the Delaware apartment project, including the Metro Lofts Condominium Board, which is on the south side of the project. Their main concerns were traffic and a greater premium for on-street parking.
The site is located between Main Street South and the CN railroad right-of-way.
A bulk oil storage and distribution business was started there in 1919 and operated until the late 1990s as Wayne-Oakland Oil Co.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) cleaned up the site in late 2020, although additional work may be required.
Three underground gasoline and oil storage tanks, ranging from 500 gallons to 900 gallons, were discovered in November 2020 and removed. Leaks from the tanks contaminated the surrounding soil and some groundwater.
EGLE workers removed 6,240 tons of soil from the site and pumped 20,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater.