Though long considered one of metro Detroit’s most desirable suburban residential communities, city leaders of Rochester Hills (population 69,000) faced difficult economic decisions typical of maturing suburbs.
Predominantly built out as a residential community, the City lacked additional space for the commercial development needed to generate tax dollars to fund the quality services and public spaces that define Rochester Hills.
McKenna’s approach was three-pronged: provide economic development analysis and strategic approaches to maximize new commercial opportunities; conduct a natural features inventory to identify and preserve Rochester Hill’s defining natural assets; and create an innovative future land use plan to ensure that in the future, the City’s limited acreage would provide a strong tax base without eroding the quality of life that attracts residents to this premier community.
The McKenna plan seeks to protect Rochester Hills’ natural resources, to preserve the City’s established neighborhoods, and to intensify, rather than expand, commercial areas. McKenna planners also proposed form-based codes, which – by regulating building design and not building use – provide a cohesive sense of place, while allowing for a mixture of uses within commercial nodes and along commercial corridors.