$22 Million Signature Project “The Webster” Proposed in Downtown Auburn Hills

We’re very pleased to report that a signature project is proposed to be built within our dynamic and growing community. Jacob Bacall with Bacall Development LCC has submitted a development application to the City of Auburn Hills to construct a six-story, 126,271 square-foot mixed-use building in the heart of Downtown Auburn Hills called “The Webster.” The total investment is estimated at $22 million.

The Webster will consist of 7,476 square feet of first-floor retail space and a 22-space parking garage, with the five floors above consisting of 85 residential apartments. The two buildings at 3346 and 3350 Auburn Road (The University Center and adjacent vacant building) will be demolished to facilitate the redevelopment project. The Webster will be built on this 0.58-acre parcel of land, which is generally located between Auburn Square/Blue Skies Brewery and Duffy’s Pub.

The Auburn Hills Tax Increment Finance Authority agreed to sell the property to Bacall Development LLC in December 2021.  Mr. Bacall chose the project name Webster in honor of the City’s history. Aaron Webster, who died in 1823, is recognized as the first landowner in what is now incorporated as the City of Auburn Hills.

In 2009, the City of Auburn Hills hired a nationally-acclaimed firm, HyettPalma, to develop an economic enhancement strategy for its new Downtown.  In the years since, the City has methodically worked to implement that plan, especially its primary recommendation to “make every effort to develop the greatest number of quality housing units possible in and near Downtown when market conditions allow.”

Why encourage housing growth in Downtown Auburn Hills?  Historically, vehicle and pedestrian traffic volumes in and through the Downtown’s emerging commercial district have not been sufficient to attract the type of retailers and restaurants City residents have requested and desire.  Thus, the recommended strategy has been to work to add people living in the area 24/7 to create life and a sense of place.  It has been proven nationally that this type of synergy can be developed over an extended period of time to support existing businesses and attract new ones in communities similar to Auburn Hills.  However, HyettPalma advised the community in 2009 that this strategy would take time to implement (decades) and that the community had to stick with the plan and be patient for it to work.  If you look at our Downtown today, especially on a Friday night, you will see significant signs that the City’s long-term patience, focus, and investment are paying dividends.  We believe The Webster will be an attractive focal point and another vital catalyst for continued growth and interest in the Downtown.

This will be the second investment for Jacob Bacall in the Downtown.  His company is currently in the final stages of completing the Fountain Circle of Auburn Hills, which is located east of this site on the former Mound Steel / Superior Concrete properties.  Fountain Circle features 259 residences in seven buildings of various sizes, with a clubhouse, pool, and numerous other amenities.

Those interested in learning more about this proposal are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, July 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  A final decision on the application is anticipated by the City Council on Monday, July 25th.

If the City Council approves, Mr. Bacall intends to demolish the existing structures on site and start construction on The Webster’s building foundation by this October.  The development is anticipated to take 20 months to complete.

Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

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