The closing of one of Farmington's long-established restaurants is being seen as an opportunity to shape the development of the city's downtown as it moves through a resurgence.
Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington DDA, says the DDA decided to purchase the parcel that includes Dimitri's restaurant, 33200 Grand River, as a way to control what comes to the stretch of road that is downtown Farmington's Main Street. The cost: $430,000 to be paid back to the City of Farmington, which approved a loan to the DDA earlier this month.
"The DDA does have an interest in bringing something to downtown that will really add to the energy and excitement that's going on here," said Annettesaid. "We are looking to kick it up a notch…We are looking to attract a restaurant or redevelopment project that will really contribute to the progress being made."
Now the DDA is entertaining potential buyers, and Knowles is holding open houses for the spot "so people can come through casually, without pressure. One open house was Aug. 14. The next is Monday, Aug. 20, from noon to 2.
"Interest has been pretty brisk," Knowles said. "We have had numerous folks come who are interested in the restaurant component…We're still debating and discussing the options and opportunities."
The proactive development approach gives the DDA and city officials control over a crucial spot of downtown, one that is across the street from a city park and pavilion that hosts summer concerts and events throughout the year.
"It does have a good location in a central part of downtown that's accessible and walkable," Knowles says.
The restaurant is 3,000 square feet, she says, and "there's room for expansion. The building could be re-used or demolished, depending on the proposals that come in.
What's known for sure is that a parking lot will be added behind the building, part of a larger plan to improve parking options downtown, Knowles said.
"The bigger picture is there are a lot of redevelopment opportunities here," she said. "This is one we where we hope to start a major trend of investment in our community."
Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine