Since its construction nearly 50 years ago, the Comerica Bank Building has served as a prominent monolith unmissable by passersby on Central Expressway.
Tonight, City Council members approved two special permits that will allow for an expansion of Serene Plaza—the site that houses the bank—to include new retail, restaurant and residential uses. At full build-out, the development will comprise 493,429 square feet.
Council member Steve Mitchell applauded the project’s lead architect for his innovation in design.
“We are always saying on council that we want people to think big,” he said. “I think what you have presented is definitely thinking big, and I appreciate that.”
The proposal for Serene Plaza includes a request for two special permits that would circumvent current zoning classifications. The first would allow for the current motor bank to be demolished and then rebuilt to include more lanes. The second would allow for the land to be used for a 14-story building that includes, among other uses, multifamily units.
The 4.3 acres of land under consideration—located at the northeast corner of Central Expressway and Spring Valley Road—is zoned planned development. Serene Plaza currently includes a six-story office building with 68 tenants, including Comerica Bank. The building is 86 percent occupied, according to the project’s architect Jack Romigh with Serene Global.
A remodel of the exterior facade is also included in the plans, Romigh said. The existing brick will be repainted to blend in with the materials used to construct the new buildings, which will be composed of brick, stone, glass and metal. LED lights will be used to illuminate the facade.
With council’s approval, the site will be redeveloped in three phases. The first phase involves demolishing the existing drive-thru bank, reconstructing the parking lot and remodeling the building’s exterior facade.
The second phase would subdivide the property into four lots, two of which will become home to new retail buildings, including a one-story, 6,000-square-foot retail/restaurant facility and a three-story, 12,500-square-foot retail/office building fronting Central Expressway.
A 14-story, mixed-use building constructed in the third and final phase will include 160 multi-family residential units, 15,000-square-feet of retail space and 6,150 square feet of office space.
To emphasize quality over quantity, councils agreed to approve the permit under the condition that the two-story retail/restaurant facility have a maximum of three tenants. They also required that developers begin with Tract 1 before moving onto the concurrent build-out of tracts 2 and 3. Tract 4, which will house the multi-family units, has a seven-year expiration date for construction. Romigh agreed to all stipulations.