As we begin 2015, we look back on the past year with great pride on a number of exciting accomplishments in our community. While there are many, I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight a few.
New development tops our list. We are always flattered when companies choose to invest in Auburn Hills. The opening of new buildings by Faurecia, GKN and Atlas Copco reflect the business community’s continued trust in our City as a great place to grow. Merlin Entertainment announced its first Sea Life Aquarium location in Michigan at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, set to celebrate its grand opening at the end of this month. Oakland University seemed to have something to celebrate all year long, including the Elliott Tower, the opening of the new engineering building, the new Oak View Hall and Honors College, an impressive new parking structure, welcoming a new President, Dr. George Hynd, and enrollment exceeding 20,000 students. At City Hall, we saw many retirements of employees who spent an entire career that, in most cases, exceeded 25 years. That produced opportunities for others in our organization to obtain well-deserved promotions, and in some cases, opened up our ability to recruit new employees.
And as if 2014 was not a busy year, it would appear that 2015 will be even busier. Three significant road projects will certainly create some challenges for traffic moving in, out and around Auburn Hills. Westbound Featherstone between N. Squirrel and Opdyke, North Squirrel Road between Walton Boulevard and Dutton, and the University Drive bridge over I-75 will all be under construction starting in April. Downtown Auburn Hills and the residential areas extending to the east of downtown will be bustling with activity when residential housing begins to the tune of more than $90 million. Studios, lofts, stacked flats, townhouses, student housing, and single family residential homes are all on tap to begin at various times in 2015 with construction lasting at least three years on some of the projects. In addition, Hirotec, Visioneering, TI Automotive, and Ralco are all expected to complete their significant company buildings throughout 2015.
Of course there are always a few disappointments along the way. In November, our Community Center abruptly closed after a pipe burst and flooded the building, causing well over $200,000 in damage. Staff and citizens alike pulled together to create alternative plans for recreation and senior services. Work is currently underway to restore the community center back to its pre-damaged condition and everyone looks forward to what we hope will be a full re-opening of the building sometime in February.
I know there is so much I have missed, but this is just a sampling of the good news about Auburn Hills in 2014 and 2015. Personally, I’m looking forward to my first full fiscal year as City Manager working with the City Council and Staff to execute the many great projects we have either underway or that are currently being planned. We will continue to focus on infrastructure improvements, cost-effective quality services to our citizens, and keeping a watchful eye on the City’s finances in order to maintain its fiscal strength.
Tom Tanghe, City Manager