Novi — Novi planning commissioners on Wednesday agreed they liked what they heard about a plan to develop more than 22 vacant acres near Novi and Grand River roads into a multi-million dollar collection of hotels and businesses.
But they weren't ready to send a recommendation on to the City Council. After an hour of presentation and discussion Wednesday night, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to postpone taking action until the applicant and city staff can share more information.
"We're close but there are some details that have to be worked out," Commissioner John Avdoulous told property owner Kevin Adell.
Adell, whose other business interests include The Word religious programming network based in Southfield, WADL television channel and Radio Superstation 910, has mounted an aggressive public campaign in recent months to gain support from residents on his goal to get the parcel rezoned. Adell's efforts have included TV and newspaper announcements and mailing out more than 23,000 postcards to every Novi homeowner asking that they contact their elected officials to approve his plan.
"I was hoping for approval but what they told me is they like what we plan so that is encouraging, it makes me want to work that much harder," said Adell, who has likened himself to a "modern-day P.T. Barnum" because of his promotional skills.
Adell laid out how if rezoned, the vacant, weed-choked acres soon could be occupied by two hotels, restaurants, fitness gym, indoor sky-diving facility and auto purchasing business that has been compared to a vending machine.
The commercial use could mean thousands of new visitors making Novi a destination and $3 million annually in taxes, which could be used for community needs, he said.
Adell claims to have purchase agreements from several businesses interested in the site, which was the Novi Expo Center before it moved in 2008. The previous Expo Center building was razed in 2012 and all that remains is a white water tower topped with "ADELL" in large black letters.
Adell's late father, Franklin, bought the entire property, once the site of Mohawk Liquors, for $150,000 in 1965. Kevin Adell said he has sat on the property waiting for the appropriate time to develop it.
Under the plan, the various businesses will "have skin in the game" rather than leasing, like many retailers in Novi, Adell said.
The city has asked Adell to submit more information on infrastructure needs, a road that will be built and parking spaces that will be required. Planning commissioners also said they would like to hear ways the project could be made more pedestrian friendly.
Each commissioner congratulated Adell on his proposal, which more than one described as a good fit for Novi.
The city is completing a traffic study, expected within the next two months, to help determine if additional roads are needed.
Adell said businesses are eager to start construction on the site and could start building before the end of the year.