When I arrived in Auburn Hills in 2001, the City was celebrating the start of a new development called Forester Square, located on the west side of Adams Road, just north of Auburn Road. Biltmore Properties had proposed a high density, neo-traditional style neighborhood within our community. It was considered a transformational project to jumpstart downtown Auburn Hills to which it would be connected. Fast forward a few years, construction comes to a screeching halt, the project enters bankruptcy, and the half-built development sits idle. What follows is a story that would need pages to describe, but it includes a crash of the U.S. economy in late 2008 that would make the prospect of seeing Forester Square continue to be built, highly unlikely. What would ensue is a foreclosure of the property for back taxes, and a purchase of the vacant land by the City in hopes of stabilizing the neighborhood and shepherding it through to completion.
2011 arrives, and with several residential lots and tracks of land now under the ownership of the City of Auburn Hills, staff proceeded to market the properties to see through the completion of the development. Forty-eight lots would be sold to two builders who would, in 2022, build the last of those homes. They were Vesta Homes (40 lots) and Trowbridge Homes (8 lots). Along the way, Vesta Homes would also purchase an acreage parcel at the north end of Forester Square and build Forester Hills. The following year in 2012, after a sale of the 48 single family lots, Moceri Companies, legendary builder of some of this area’s finest neighborhoods with its headquarters in Auburn Hills, expresses its interest in completing the development of the remaining undeveloped land on the south side of Forester Square and along its western edge. Named “The Parkways”, Moceri Companies would build dozens of ranch-style apartments in two-story buildings as well as several traditional two-story townhomes. In typical Moceri fashion, the development as it stands today is beautiful.
Now more than a decade after the resurgence of the stalled project that began in 2001 and restarted again in about 2011, Moceri Companies will complete the final phase of this two-decade long development as they begin construction in spring of 2023 of 32 townhouse-style apartments, as well as 18 townhouses that will be available for sale. Yes, it’s the last piece of the puzzle that completes what was once planned in its entirety as the Forester Square community, but now finds itself to be a well-designed, cohesive community within our community made up of Forester Square, Forester Hills, and The Parkways.
Hats off to those developers who believed in the development, believed in taking a risk during some very tumultuous economic times, cooperated with the City to make it happen, and stayed with the project until the end. The entire development, now connected to our downtown by way of Parkways Boulevard and its sidewalks, is an important part of the growing and dynamic downtown that is underway.
Thomas A. Tanghe, City Manager