Pontiac, MI - The transformation of downtown Pontiac took a vital step forward Thursday with the Oakland County Board of Commissioners' approval of the county’s purchase of 10-12 acres of property, including Ottawa Towers at 51111 Woodward, the former General Motors Building at 31 E. Judson, four adjacent parcels of land, and the current lease for the Phoenix Center parking garage.
This comes on the heels of the Michigan Legislature’s appropriating $50 million in the state budget for the Downtown Pontiac Redevelopment Project, a partnership between Oakland County and the City of Pontiac with a goal of revitalizing the city’s downtown.
“The Commissioners’ approval today along with the State of Michigan’s funding are key steps toward the renewal of Pontiac back into a bustling downtown filled with workers and economic activity,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “We look forward to working with the state, city of Pontiac and its residents to help begin planning for this transformational project in the city’s downtown.”
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee authorized the county to enter into a $19.2 million agreement in May to purchase 10-12 acres of property in downtown Pontiac. The county completed a 60-day due diligence period to evaluate the structures and property records including environmental and property condition reports, surveys, and titles before the Board of Commissioners gave final approval of the sale. Closing is anticipated for mid-August.
“Today we made history! Today’s vote marks our largest investment in the downtown of our county seat. I couldn’t be more excited about this project we know will unlock new economic opportunities, create new green space and make Oakland County operations work best. It feels good to be coming home,” said Board Chair David T. Woodward (D-Royal Oak).
The state funds will help with building renovations, blight removal, redeveloping commercial and green spaces and streetscaping, reconnecting city streets, and developing safe parking options for county and state government workers and residents.
Once renovations are complete, Oakland County intends to move some operations back to downtown Pontiac after an absence of more than 60 years. This would entail an estimated 500-600 county employees from departments and divisions and would help to address capital improvement needs identified in a study conducted for the county by Plante Moran. The last significant presence in downtown Pontiac was in the early 1960s when the county courthouse was moved to the western limits of the city where the current county government campus stands.
This transformational project in partnership with the county and city will:
- Increase the number of workers in Pontiac’s downtown by moving a sizeable amount of county operations and personnel to the city.Create more
- commercial space and increase the number of opportunities for small businesses in Pontiac.
- Use the Michigan Department of Transportation’s reconfiguration of the Woodward loop in 2025 to reimagine the downtown’s south end, including transforming current buildings into public spaces which would strengthen connections between Pontiac residents and the downtown corridor.
- Reconnect Saginaw Street with the rest of downtown through road construction.
- Enhance green space and provide walkability for employees and residents.
- Provide new safe parking opportunities for daytime workers and evening activities.
- Make county, city, and state government services more accessible to residents of Pontiac and Oakland County by connecting these buildings to public transit.
In addition to making a long-term commitment to downtown Pontiac by relocating some of its operations and personnel, Oakland County is prepared to invest America Rescue Plan Act funds as well as ongoing capital improvement funds into the Downtown Pontiac Redevelopment Project.