Tesla is eyeing a facility in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan. The Michigan space spans 42,600 square feet and was formerly a Barnes & Nobles. It is located on the west side of Orchard Lake Road. Real estate developer Curis Enterprises wants to buy the space from Mitch Gappy, who owns it under Orchard Book Property LLC.
The former bookstore site seems like an ideal location for a new Tesla shop. The West Bloomfield Township wants to turn the surrounding area into a pedestrian-oriented town center with residential, retail, and office spaces. However, before Tesla can seal the deal on the new MI facility, it’ll have to clear some hurdles first.
The head of Curis Enterprises, Michael Curis Sr., told the West Bloomfield Township Planning Commission that Tesla was interested in renting the space. The first hurdle is that the Detroit-based real estate developer must seal the deal with Mitch Gappy before Tesla can become its tenant.
The second hurdle is much more complicated: the township must agree to an exception for the Tesla facility. Township Center District zoning areas currently require dealerships to store their vehicles indoors. However, Curis is seeking permission for Tesla to keep its vehicles outdoors.
According to Kathy Hagopian, the chairperson of the township planning commission, the requirement is purely aesthetic in nature. The township wants to achieve a downtown-like feel along Orchard Lake Road.
“We’re trying to encourage our populace to come and visit and stay and walk the area,” Hagopian told Crain’s Detroit Business. “We’re trying to discourage having a lot of parking lots that are seen [from] the street and things like that. We want to make it more of a downtown district, is what we want.”
The township’s building director and zoning and planning manager, Gordon Bowdell, doesn’t seem to think Tesla should be given an exception. Bowdell argued that even if Tesla sold electric vehicles, “the use and visual impact is the same as a traditional auto dealer with expansive parking lots use [sic] to store/display vehicles.”
However, Tesla facilities are usually more than shops. The EV automaker’s latest “shops” are usually multi-purpose areas where customers can also get their cars serviced. Tesla customers mainly order their vehicles online.