BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
ROYAL OAK – When Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Tillander drives to her office on Washington Ave., the sky-high crane down the block is sure to bring a smile to her face.
That crane is helping build “The Fifth Royal Oak” – one of nearly a half-dozen condominiums under construction or recently completed in the city.
The Fifth is also a stop on the Chamber’s Royal Oak Living: Condo and Loft Tour, held from 2-6 p.m. on April 29. The tour’s shuttle buses will leave from the parking garage on Lafayette Ave., south of Fourth Street.
Participants will catch a glimpse inside already constructed lofts or view virtual tours and scale models of soon-to-be completed structures.
If you visit six or more lofts, you’ll receive a coupon for a 20 percent meal discount you can use on the tour day at a variety of Royal Oak restaurants.
What is driving Royal Oak’s building boom?
It may be the boutique-style shopping and art galleries or the live music, theater, and comedy. Or it could be the more than 40 restaurants featuring Nepali, Spanish, Belgian and other international cuisines – all within walking distance, said Tillander.
“People that are attracted to Royal Oak are attracted to a certain vibrancy and diversity that this downtown offers above all others,” she said. “If you find it necessary to drive somewhere else, we’re centrally located.”
While the city’s nightlife is a big draw, newcomers will enjoy other community activities, she said.
“We’ve got the Farmer’s Market for fresh produce, antiques and flowers, we’ve got outdoor concerts the city provides every Wednesday night during the summer and we’re in close proximity to the zoo,” she said.
The new condominiums represent a $70 million investment in the city, attracting an estimated 1,500 new residents, she said.
Bob – who asked his last name not be used, is just one of the city’s new gay residents.
Bob said his loft at the SkyLofts Market Square, on 11 Mile, a few blocks east of Main, cost just over $300,000.
He and his partner moved into their two-bedroom two-bath 1,500 square foot loft in January.
“It’s not directly on Main so you avoid the noise of the city, but its just kitty corner from Farmer’s Market so it will be great to buy our fruits and vegetables in the summer,” he said. “My bank is downtown Royal Oak, the post office is downtown Royal Oak, friends come by and if we go to a restaurant we can walk to it. The public library is right there. I won’t have to get in my car. I’m thrilled about that aspect.”
The couple, former Ferndale homeowners, researched their move for two years.
“Both my partner and I, we grew up in the suburbs and there was nothing you could walk to,” he said. “We looked in Ann Arbor, Novi, Northville and Plymouth. Detroit didn’t offer the services we needed. We have a lot of friends who live in and around Royal Oak and we didn’t want to move away from them because relationships are important.”
Bob said he’s relishing his newfound freedom from shoveling snow, cutting lawns and raking leaves after his move to his condominium.
“We looked at traditional housing, traditional condos and loft condos,” he said.
“It’s really about simplifying my lifestyle.”
Click here to visit the SkyLofts MarketSquare website!
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