Royal Oak City Center construction begins as group fights back

Royal Oak is officially kicking off its new city hall project this week, but the project is met with some resistance.

The plan is to transform a prominent piece of the city's downtown with a new office building and a massive park. Developer Ron Boji is leading the charge to turn the city's largest surface parking lot into a six story building for businesses.

"If you want to live, work and play in a dense walkable area where they don't need a car for everything, come to Royal Oak," he says.

Attached to the building will be a 580 space parking deck for the 700 new employees Boji says will be hired to fill the space. The crown jewel of the project is a sprawling park that will take the place of the current city hall and police department once they are demolished.

"It's going to be a pivotal part of our development here," Boji says.

Not everyone is on board with the major development, though. A group known as Take Back Royal Oak has been vocally opposed and has even filed several lawsuits against the city to try and stop this.

"We're not against development but as it started to come together there didn't seem to be a lot of interest in the city of what we would consider the right way," says Greg Stanalajczo.

Stanalajczo is a business owner downtown who also lives here. One of the main issues for him and Take Back Royal Oak supporters is the lack of parking. 

"There is already a parking shortage down here, there has been for a few years, and they just eliminated the largest surface parking structure," he says.

He says he would have liked to see more input from business owners on what is the best future for Royal Oak.

"There are a variety of business down here that have been here for 20 plus years playing taxes. It would have been great to get everybody together and have a discussion on how this might best benefit everybody, but that ship kind of sailed already," he says.

The building is set to open next July.