Hazel Park has been expanding its residential and industrial base after drawing new investments from Amazon, LG Chem, AKASOL, and on the housing side, with Robertson Brothers Homes in Bloomfield Hills.
At Ashely Capital’s Tri-County Commerce Center, set on the former Hazel Park Raceway, ground was recently broken on Building #3, a 910,000-square-foot light-industrial structure. The spec building, expected to be completed this year, joins a 575,000-square-foot building for an Amazon Fulfillment Center, along with AKASOL and LG Chem, which are producing batteries for passenger and commercial vehicles.
The second building on the site, 625,000 square feet, opened last year and houses Tier One auto suppliers for FCA Group, Dakota, Hi-Lex, and EnovaPremier.
“Ashley Capital has been a great partner. They came in, remediated the site and brought back an eighth of the city,” says Jeff Campbell, economic development director of Hazel Park. “When the racetrack closed, I never thought it would be redeveloped so quickly. What they’ve done is impressive.”
AKASOL, a Germany-based high-tech firm making high-performance battery systems for trucks, buses, watercraft, and other applications, moved into the first Ashley Capital building at the beginning of 2020.
“We have 20 employees now and we will have 50 by the end of the year. By the end of five years, we will have more than 200,” says Roy Schulde, president of AKASOL. He adds the company looked at locations in 10 states and eventually selected Hazel Park for its new facility. The site is located near I-75 and I-696.
Campbell notes the city’s businesses have, for the most part, weathered the COVID-19 pandemic well. He says most restaurants and bars are still operating, even if at a reduced capacity.
Other important legacy retail businesses maintained, and even experienced a modest uptick, during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s really a testament to the Hazel Park business owners,” says Ed Klobuchar, Hazel Park city manager. “Most of them own their own buildings, so it’s given them more flexibility when it comes to making rent.”
He adds the proliferation of legal cannabis establishments has yielded some visible results. “The city has embraced marijuana and they (the shops) been good corporate citizens,” Klobucher says. “They took over some buildings that had been vacant and dilapidated for years and turned them around. While application fees are a small new revenue source for the city, we have yet to receive any anticipated revenue from the taxing of retail marijuana from the State of Michigan.”
Campbell adds another good sign for the city is the development of Park 54, a project of 54 single-family townhomes now under construction off of E. Woodward Heights, just east of John R Road, by Robertson Brothers Homes. Prices start at $214,990. Amenities include two bedrooms, 1.5 or 2.5 baths, an open floor plan, a large kitchen, and more.
“Robertson Homes will provide what is referred to our “missing middle housing,” which is housing for single persons, married couples, or small families,” says Campbell. “It’s an exciting development. It will be a half-block away from the restaurants and shops on John R.”
Work on the homes started in the fall of 2020 and the first units are scheduled for completion this summer.
Campbell adds John R Road through the city went on a “road diet,” where the road was narrowed from four lanes to three lanes. From I-75 to 8 Mile Road, there are now bike lanes on both sides of the road.
The overall effect is to slow traffic to promote the better safety of drivers, pedestrians, and bicycles. The rest of John R, between Nine and 10 Mile roads, will be narrowed after the I-75 construction project is completed in the next two years or so.