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More parking offline in Royal Oak as police station construction begins

Construction starts Wednesday on a new police station in Royal Oak as part of its civic center project downtown. The station on 11 Mile Road between Second and Knowles streets would replace an older facility built in 1964.

The city of Royal Oak is closing 190 parking spots by the Farmers Market building Wednesday to begin construction of a new police station as part of the wider city center project.

Parking is a hot topic in the 60,000-resident Oakland County city — especially concerning the Royal Oak Civic Center, a multi-pronged construction effort clustered downtown east of Main Street and south of 11 Mile Road.

The closure for construction of the $19.1 million police station will leave 88 parking spaces in the Farmers Market lots, according to a spokeswoman for the city project.

The city contends that parking woes caused by the construction squeeze will be alleviated when a nearby 581-space parking structure opens in June. It also has an online parking guide and is offering free valet and shopping carts for market customers.

Worries about reducing parking by the Farmers Market — and downtown in general — prompted some farmers and business owners to band together in a group called Take Back Royal Oak Coalition and create SavetheFarmersMarket.com. Several businesses have complained over the past year that construction and lack of parking has hurt sales. And some farmers fear that transferring Farmers Market parking from nearby lots to the new parking deck will drive away shoppers.

Civic center progress

The Royal Oak Civic Center is a city-led development project with several components.

Ground first broke in May for a six-story office building from Lansing-based developer Boji Group on the site. It will house a $70 million Henry Ford Health System outpatient medical center.

Work on the public parking structure is nearly complete and construction started in December on a new $12.2 million City Hall building. The city also plans to demolish the current City Hall and replace it with a park.

The police station is up next. Construction work starts Wednesday on a replacement building that'll be adjacent to the Farmers Market. It's slated for 2020 completion.

"Our current facility was constructed in 1964 and is extremely outdated for the type of technology and equipment we use today," Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said in a news release.

It's designed to allow the force to operate more efficiently and spend more time out patroling, the release said. Improved features also include a more "modern lock up and booking area" and a bridge to the courthouse, according to the release.

 

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