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An aerial view of East Campus at Oakland University.

East Campus Developments

Oakland University is gathering information regarding the potential mixed-use development of the corner of Walton Road and Adams Road.   The university has retained the national consulting firm of Brailsford and Dunlavey to facilitate a market analysis and developer engagement to explore potential opportunities that would directly and indirectly support the university’s mission, generate a consistent revenue stream for the university, and be complementary to the surrounding community.  Once completed, this information will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees at which time the board will make a final determination on next steps, if any.

Please share any questions and/or feedback to cornerquestions@oakland.edu.

Goals

Oakland University began this process with four goals in mind:

Leverage Underutilized Land

  • OU seeks to maximize the value of its campus-edge land

Support Future Campus Investments

  • Net revenue stream from this development will support other campus projects & initiatives

Transform Eastern Campus Gateway

  • OU’s East Campus is home to major historical, and cultural attractions and assets, but lacks a compelling gateway district

Create Campus & Community Assets

  • Enhance campus culture and community engagement
Timeframe

Oakland University has completed a comprehensive market study and site feasibility assessment to explore various potential offerings on the corner and ascertain revenue potential (“Phase 1”). The timeframe noted below describes Phase 2, which is currently in progress. It will gather stakeholder information, explore potential development partnerships, create a detailed draft  development plan for the site, and initiate potential partner feedback/solicitation. Once all information is gleaned from this process, the OU Board of Trustees will make a final determination on next steps, if any. The timing is subject to change as information develops. This page will be updated regularly.

ItemTimeframe

Campus Master Plan
Spotlighted the Walton-Adams Corner

Completed/Updated
2016/2019

Market Study
Weighed potential for development of various uses including housing, retail, hotel, performing arts, office, and others.

Completed
2021

Due Diligence and Conceptual Development Plan
Confirming interest from potential development communities and physical/programmatic guidelines plus first round of faculty and university stakeholder group concept consultation.

Complete
April - June 2022

Proposal Solicitation
Multi-stage process. Includes request for qualifications (“RFQs”) from potential development partner teams, shortlisting of preferred teams, request for development proposals (“RFPs”), evaluation and scoring of >draft project design, draft program, and financials.

Complete
June - November 2022

Proposal Review
Evaluation of mission alignment, long-term value proposition to the university, and environmental impacts. Seek faculty, student, staff, and community input on top proposal(s) via second consultative round thru 20+ feedback meetings January - April 2023. The proposals will be shared and discussed at two public OU BOT meetings (February/April). Potential selection of preferred master developer by OU Board of Trustees in April 2023.

Alternatively, if none of the proposals is deemed satisfactory and/or not in the best interests of OU, the board will decide not to proceed.

Upcoming
December – April 2023

Pre-Development
Further negotiations, due diligence, and verification of financing.

If approved
2023

As of October 21, 2022

Collaboration

The following individuals and groups have been engaged, and will continue to be engaged, throughout the evaluation process for feedback. Feedback will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees and a part of the evaluation process in February 2023.

OU Work Group
  • Boyd Farnam - Vice President Legal Affairs
  • Jim Hargett - Interim VP Finance & Administration
  • Siraj Khan - Interim Associate VP Facilities Management
  • Mike Westfall - VP University Advancement
BOT Work Group 
  • David Kramer
  • Dennis Muchmore
  • Bobby Schostak
Campus Community Groups
  • East Campus Stakeholder Committee
  • Campus Development Environmental Committee
  • Senate Budget Review Committee
  • Senate Planning Review Committee
  • Steering Committee of the Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment
  • Senate Steering Committee
  • Full Senate
  • Student Congress (Upcoming)
  • Faculty Sub-Division (Upcoming)
East Campus Stakeholder Committee Roster
  • Amy Barnes-Berceli - Provost Office
  • Rochelle Black - Government Relations
  • Ethan Bradley BOT - Student Liaison (last spring)
  • Evan Derminoff Student - Affairs & Faculty Subdivision
  • Ashley Dewling - Golf and Learning Center
  • Red Douglas - BOT Student Liaison (current)
  • Amy Gould - Staff & Faculty Subdivision
  • Jayson Hall - Office of Legal Affairs
  • Jim Hargett - Finance & Administration
  • Jeff Insko - Faculty
  • Mallory Kean - BOT Student Liaison (current)
  • Siraj Khan - Facilities
  • Michelle Knox - Finance & Administration
  • Bill Matt - Meadow Brook Hall
  • Chiara Nava - Student Congress Representative
  • Chris Reed - OU Sustainability Team
  • Andrew Romano - Student Congress Representative
  • Joe Shively - College of Arts & Sciences
  • Steve Stanton - Faculty & Campus Development and Environment Committee
  • Wayne Thibodeau - Student Affairs
  • Scott Tiegs - Faculty & Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mike Westfall - Advancement
  • Amanda Wewer - BOT Student Liaison (last spring)
  • John Young - University Communications and Marketing & Faculty Subdivision
Case Study Examples

A table showing case studies of similar campus areas to the possible East Campus development at Oakland University.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the total acreage of the site?

The total Walton/Adams corner acreage noted within the RFP is approximately 30 acres on the northeastern most point of campus and represents 2% of the university’s total of 1,443 acres. With the wooded area of 11 acres most likely excluded for preservation, a net of approximately 19 acres is the estimated development footprint should a proposal be selected. This represents 1.3% of the university’s total of 1,443 acres.

Do Oakland University’s (University) ordinances (Ordinances) apply to the property located at the corner of Walton Road and Adams Road (East Campus Property) that is currently being considered for a potential mixed use development and which law enforcement agency or agencies will be responsible for the East Campus Property?

The Ordinances as they are amended from time-to-time, and any established exceptions to the Ordinances, generally apply to property that is under the ownership, jurisdiction or control of the University's Board of Trustees including the East Campus Property. Both the Oakland University Police Department and the Oakland County Sheriff Department currently have and will continue to have concurrent jurisdiction over the East Campus Property. As the East Campus Property project becomes better defined, through detailed reviews of developer proposals and ongoing discussions with faculty, students, staff and community members, the University will be addressing issues such as application of specific Ordinances to East Campus Property and the optimal assignment of responsibility for policing the East Campus Property. As always, the University’s primary concern will be protecting the health, safety and welfare of the faculty, students, staff and surrounding community.

What will be the opportunities to provide additional feedback?

Prior to the RFQ and RFP process being initiated, there were a number of stakeholder meetings in April and May, 2022 that included the following groups: East Campus Stakeholder Committee, Campus Development Environmental Committee, Senate Budget Review Committee, Senate Planning Review Committee, Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment, Senate Steering Committee, Full Faculty Senate, and the Campus Sustainability Committee. The East Campus stakeholder committee is made up of staff, faculty, students, and faculty subdivision residents.

Currently, there are 20+ update meetings anticipated (October/November) and proposal review meetings (January-March) set up, or being set up, with Student Congress Leadership (October), Student Congress (October/November/January), Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment (November/January), Campus Sustainability Committee (November/January), East Campus Stakeholder Committee (November/December/January/February), Full Faculty Senate (November/January), Faculty Subdivision (November/January) Senate Budget Review Committee (January), Senate Planning Review Committee (January), Senate Steering Committee (January), Community Open House (January). Additional meeting requests are anticipated and welcomed.

Also, feedback is being requested via cornerquestions@oakland.edu. All feedback will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees in advance and/or during public BOT meetings in February and April.

What measures are being taken to protect the wooded area that exists near the corner of Walton & Adams?

From the onset of discussions regarding the potential development of the corner, the preservation of the wooded area has been viewed as an important preservation feature of the corner. An emphasis on preservation was noted in the RFP with the topic of the preservation of the wooded area being a point of emphasis in all potential developer conversations to date. While the outcomes of this emphasis will not be known until the proposals are submitted in November, each potential developer group has agreed with the preservation of the wooded area to be a priority and an integral consideration within their respective planning. The preservation of the wooded area will be a priority in the evaluation of the proposals that are submitted.

It looks like the timeline was extended, why?

It is important to provide plenty of time to secure as much stakeholder feedback as possible; and that the OU Board of Trustees has ample time for a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the proposals and stakeholder feedback. The proposals and stakeholder feedback will be discussed at the public BOT meetings in February and April.

What will happen to Tree Runner?

Each potential developer team has inquired as to the relationship status with Tree Runner. The University has shared that Tree Runner is a valued campus partner and amenity that we would like to see continue.

Why would OU get involved in a venture such as this?

Ultimately, we believe there is an opportunity to generate new revenue streams for the University in a way that attractively redevelops underutilized campus land and supports the mission of the University. This development opportunity is an industry best-practice with many comparable examples at campuses across the nation:

  • Eddy Street Commons – a mixed-use “campus town” district at the University of Notre Dame
  • Storrs Center – a similar district adjacent to the University of Connecticut
  • The Crossing at KU – a mixed-use innovation district currently in planning at the University of Kansas
  • The Pillars – a similar district currently in planning at Houston Baptist University
Will the preservation of the woods be a priority?

Yes. Preservation of the woods has been a focus area in conversations with potential developers, and will continue to be so.

Will there be an opportunity for community feedback on the final proposal(s)?

Yes. In January 2023, there will be a community open house to review and secure feedback on the final development proposal(s). This feedback will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees in February 2023.

How many developer finalists are there, and when are their proposals due?

There are a total of four developers (two national, two local) that are submitting bids that are due near the end of November. These will be evaluated in December with final proposal(s) selected for stakeholder review and feedback January 2023 - March 2023.

The consultant's marketing study shows the potential of a very dense urban development. Is this the focus of the developers, and the desire of OU?

The study demonstrated a potential max capacity for the site. This level of density is not desired by the university, and the initial discussion with developers has seen a shared desire in this regard.

Will a potential development honor the history of the site?

A consistent theme with the potential developers has been the honoring of the historic aspects of MBH estate, as well as the need to be complementary to the campus and surrounding community.

Will the campus stakeholder groups that were engaged early, be engaged later in the process?

Yes. Every group engaged early in the process will be re-engaged in January 2023 to review and offer feedback on the final development proposal(s). This feedback will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees in February 2023.

Will this allow jobs and other internship opportunities for OU students?

Potentially, yes. This will be a focus area, and be dependent upon the ultimate mix of activities.

How will the university pay for any proposed development on the corner?

No financial details have been submitted yet. OU would prioritize development proposals that are cost neutral; meaning that the university would not make a financial contribution beyond the lease of the land. This type of arrangement is a common P3 best practice.

Are there any good examples of university P3 developments like what OU is envisioning?
  • U. of Kansas - The Crossing at KU: Mixed-use innovation district / land monetization with office, lab, retail, housing
  • U. Notre Dame - Eddy Street Commons: Multi-phase “campus town” with housing and retail on a ground lease, hotel and condo components.
  • U. of Connecticut - Storrs Center: Housing, hotel, and retail
  • Houston Baptist U. - The Pillars: Arena-adjacent land monetization with retail and future residential and office components
  • Old Dominion U.: Campus-edge land monetization with apartments, retail, grocery
  • CSU Monterrey Bay: Campus-edge retail / housing
  • Redlands U.: Campus-edge retail / housing / hotel
What are the main factors in the selection of a P3 partnership?

At a macro level, relevant experience, amount of risk, level of control, mission alignment, financial considerations, preservation measures, sustainability strategies, and historical elements.

How were the preliminary draft uses of the corner identified?

An extensive market assessment was completed by Brailsford & Dunlavey. The mix of activities has yet to be determined and is an important part of ongoing conversations.

Would it be more valuable for the University to just sell the land?

Given that the corner is contiguous to the main campus, it is important that the University retain long-term control over the use of the land. So the sale of the land is highly unlikely.

Will tuition dollars or state dollars be used to fund any projects that are developed on the corner?

No.

How are the varied campus community groups being engaged in this process?

There is a stakeholder group (listed on the Collaboration section of this page) of twenty campus representatives that is meeting monthly to discuss project status, planning, and to offer feedback. In addition, there have been a number of meetings with multiple University stakeholder groups including faculty, staff, and students. These will continue with the bulk of remaining feedback being garnered via sessions in January 2023.

Are community leaders being engaged at all as a part of this process?

Yes. Representatives from Oakland County, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, and Pontiac have been invited to a May meeting. The university will share information gathered to date and seek feedback. In addition, there will be a community open house to discuss the final development proposal(s) for feedback in January 2023. This feedback will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees in February 2023.

The development focus appears to be heavy on housing. Why? And, who is the target audience for the proposed housing?

The market survey has demonstrated that the greatest demand, hence greatest return on investment, will likely be in upscale multi-family housing. This is the option currently being vetted to the campus community as well as community stakeholders. The preliminary focus is on non-student housing given that the OU campus master plan has identified two other main campus areas for future student housing. The ultimate target audience has not been finalized, nor has this use been determined to be the predominate use.

What type of retail is OU considering for this site?

Given that the Village is across the street, any retail would be service focused and largely on the campus community and development tenants.

Given the price tag for a Performing Arts Center (PAC), how is this going to be funded?

OU is unable to fully finance a PAC. However, it is hoped that via this development and through potential partnerships with the county, regional cities, and private sector, that funding could be secured. OU’s potential investment could be via donor funding and/or leveraging revenue from the overall development.

What is the official approval process? When will OU break ground?

We are still in the information gathering stage with no decisions having been made. The RFP submission process will be completed by the end of November 2022, with a review in December 2022, campus stakeholder feedback sessions January - March 2023, and OU Board of Trustee review and discussion at the February and April 2023 public meetings. Stakeholder feedback will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees in February and April 2023. If the project were to go forward, an actual ground breaking of any type would be a year or more away due to the planning required.

There is a slide in a stakeholder presentation (“East Campus Study Final Concept”) that shows a development in the faculty subdivision, is this a part of the scope of the project?

No. One area of understandable community concern within the concept drawing is the recommended development within the OU Faculty Subdivision on the east side of Adams Road. This area is home to OU faculty and staff, and borders several thriving neighborhoods. This was provided by a master planning consultant in 2019 as a final recommendation, however, no board action was taken at that time, or since. This area is not a part of any Oakland University development scope. The university’s sole focus is on vetting opportunities related to the corner of Walton Road and Adams Road.

How does the planning dovetail with the potential widening of Adams Road, which is currently being explored by the Oakland County Road Commission via a federal BUILD grant?

While planning is still in the ideation/feedback phase, it will be a major consideration should development of the corner proceed.

This project seems like it is imminent and OU will be breaking ground soon. Is this the case?

No it isn’t. This is still fairly early in the process with the focus being on information gathering so that the OU Board of Trustees can make an informed decision. Building on the market study, the current stage is focused on generating ideas and feedback that once complete will be shared with the development community via a RFQ and RFP process. This will provide the OU Board of Trustees additional information related to what a P3 partnership looks like and include the potential impacts and value of a development partnership. It is following receipt and evaluation of all this information that a “go or no-go” decision would be made.

Will sustainability strategies be a part of any corner development proposal?

Yes. The university is committed to sustainability efforts.

As a supporter of shared governance, will formal development plans be shared with the OU Senate?

There are no formal development plans at this point. Formal proposals for consideration will be submitted near the end of November 2022, with review in December 2022, stakeholder review and feedback in January 2023 (including the OU Faculty Senate). Thus far, the university has received valuable input from a number of university groups including: the Campus Development Environmental Committee, the East Campus Stakeholder Committee, the Senate Budget Review Committee, the Senate Planning Review Committee, the Steering Committee of the Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment, the Senate Steering Committee, and the full Senate.

How will a potential public/private partnership be handled while avoiding any Board of Trustee conflict of interest?

If a potential conflict of interest were to arise in the course of the project, it would be addressed as provided in the Oakland University Board of Trustees Conflict of Interest Policy.

How will environmental impacts be mitigated, particularly the protection of several tree areas?

As a part of the RFP process from potential developers, there will be a conservation clause that asks that specific consideration will be given to those draft plans that preserve and add trees to the site. The university will also seek an environmental impact report from the chosen developer, if/when the project would move to negotiations. Also, additional feedback will be sought specifically from the Campus Development Environmental Committee, and the Steering Committee of the Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment, as well as other groups.

How much has been paid in consulting fees? And, where is this funding coming from?

A RFP was distributed and awarded to national consultant Brailsford & Dunlavey. Total cost of this engagement as of November 2022 is $266,600. This cost will be funded from any proceeds from the developer if a proposal is approved to move forward. If not, it will be funded from the capital project supplement fund.

Years ago there was a proposal for a larger hotel and conference center, why a smaller hotel in the market study?

The market is much different now versus in the past. To appropriately meet current demand, and limit risk, the market study recommends a much smaller hotel footprint if a hotel is pursued within any of the proposals.

If a development proposal is approved by the BOT in April 2023, how will the revenue that is generated be utilized by the university?

A specific allocation of any potential development revenue will be addressed upon evaluation of the proposals. It is safe to say at this juncture that should a proposal be approved, proceeds would be utilized to support students, faculty, programs, and infrastructure. Allocations will be decided at an appropriate time should a proposal move forward, and be communicated to the campus community.

What steps is the university taking to support sustainability during the evaluation process?

From onset of discussions regarding the potential development of the corner, preservation of the wooded area has been an important preservation feature of the corner. Preservation of this area, and sustainability strategies, were noted in the RFP. Preservation of the wooded area has been a point of emphasis in all potential developer conversations. While the outcomes of this emphasis will not be known until the proposals are submitted, each potential developer group has agreed with the preservation of the wooded area to be a priority and an integral consideration within their respective planning. The preservation of the wooded area and sustainability strategies will be priorities in the evaluation of the submitted proposals.

Is the potential for increased campus traffic a concern?

Oakland University is a partner with the City of Rochester Hills and Oakland County in a multi-year Adams Road study being conducted by the Oakland County Road Commission and funded by a federal grant. The study will recommend potential Adams Road enhancements that will address traffic and safety issues. Given the location of the corner in proximity to the main campus, the impact would be expected to be minimal.

Who would be the responding police agency should East campus be developed, OUPD or Oakland County Sheriff?

TBD. Both the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and OUPD will have concurrent jurisdiction over any potential development regardless of which agency is the primary responding agency. Depending upon the nature and scope of the proposal, and the negotiations between the University and the developer, one of three options is likely: (i) OUPD is the primary responding agency as it currently is on the remainder of campus; (ii) the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is the primary responding agency as it currently is in the Meadow Brook Subdivision; or (iii) a hybrid or shared responsibility model as it currently is at the Meadow Brook Music Festival. In any negotiations with the developer, the University will attempt to (i) recover any expenses that it may incur for public safety services that OUPD or any other University department provides to any potential development; and (ii) recover any expenses that it may incur for public safety services that other agencies provide to any potential development.

Which police agency provides coverage to the amphitheate and Meadow Brook subdivision currently?

The Oakland County Sherriff’s Department is the primary responding agency for the Meadow Brook Faculty/Staff Subdivision. Both the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and OUPD have concurrent jurisdiction within the Meadow Brook Music Festival with the Oakland County Sherriff’s Department serving as the lead during events, and OUPD serving as the lead all other times.

If the Sheriff's Office provided the police service to that area, would the University be charged for their service?

TBD. The University has not had any discussions with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department about the Sheriff’s Department being the primary responding agency for a potential development. In any negotiations with a potential developer, the University will seek to (i) recover any expenses that it may incur for public safety services that OUPD or any other University department provides to the East Campus development; and (ii) recover any expenses that it may incur for public safety services that other agencies provide to a potential development.

If the OUPD provided the police service in the developed area, would we charge the developer for police service?

TBD. In any negotiations with a potential developer, the University will seek to (i) recover any expenses that it may incur for public safety services that OUPD or any other University department provides to the East Campus development; and (ii) recover any expenses that it may incur for public safety services that other agencies provide to a potential development.

Given the lack of any type of vegetation and plants on the corner of Walton/Adams, has any thought been given to using native plants as a part of any potential landscaping elements?

While that specific topic hasn't come up yet, there have been conversations regarding sustainable practice, which this certainly would fall. This question will be specifically addressed during the design phase if a concept proposal is approved to proceed.

Will there be any academic components or relationships with a potential development?

Potential academic partnerships questions have come up in the initial conversations with the proposal teams. OU is very open to and would welcome potential academic connections with any conversations/decisions being handled by the Faculty and Academic Affairs. OU will know more once the actual proposals are submitted for review and discussion.

Has a Cultural Resource Management study been completed on the potential site?

Not to our knowledge, no. OU is meeting with an OU faculty member that specialize in this area to learn more about what this would entail.

How will OU’s Weapons and Explosives ordinance be applied to any potential development on East Campus?

The University’s Weapons and Explosives ordinance will apply to any East Campus development that the Board of Trustees approves including any private residences that might be included as part of that development. The University will amend the Weapons and Explosives ordinance, if necessary, to ensure that the ordinance applies to any approved East Campus development in the same manner that it applies to the rest of the Oakland University campus, and that any approved East Campus development will not qualify for any of the existing exceptions in that ordinance.

With so many students and faculty speaking out in opposition to any type of development on the corner of Walton/Adams, why is the Board of Trustees continuing to consider potential development?

The OU BOT is committed to a full evaluation of potential revenue generating options, including not proceeding with any of the submitted proposals. The board is interested in proposals that are consistent with the mission, vision, values and goals of the institution and/or that would generate revenue for the institution that can be used to support the mission, vision, values and goals of the institution. It is important that we wait and see what the proposals are and see whether or not they are beneficial to the institution.

When will the campus community be able to see and provide feedback on the proposal concepts, renderings, and estimated revenue projections?

Information related to the developer proposals will be shared with the campus community for feedback in the first week of January. In order to obtain this information, interested parties may email the OU Purchasing Office at purchasing@oakland.edu beginning on that date. From this shared information, a sampling of developer concepts and renderings will be added to the website and included in stakeholder presentations. Feedback on the concept and renderings garnered the month of January (and into February) via the website, presentations, media, and cornerquestions@oakland.edu will be shared with the OU Board of Trustees at the meeting on February 6, 2023. Given the need for the university to have a stronger negotiation position for any potential agreement discussions, the estimated revenue projections will be shared with the campus community in March, well in advance of the OU Board of Trustees meeting on April 20, 2023. Concept and rendering feedback garnered since the February OU BOT meeting, via the website, presentations, media, and cornerquestions@oakland.edu, will also be shared during the April OU Board of Trustees meeting.