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Community Introduction

Beverly Hills

Winding, tree-lined streets crisscross neighborhoods throughout the Village of Beverly Hills, which sits just southwest of Birmingham and only about 20 miles northwest of Detroit.

With a population of a little more than 10,000, the Oakland County village covers about four square miles of land, much of it wooded.

“We do have a lot of bigger trees. We have a high percentage of old, nice, big, mature trees,” said Elizabeth Wren, assistant to the village manager.

Located in Southfield Township, the village’s housing stock ranges from vintage homes to more recently built luxury addresses, many of which are situated on the village’s west side, Wren said.

The residential character of Beverly Hills is maintained throughout the community with the exception of a small shopping area and medical village on Southfield Road where consumers will find a grocery store, an exercise studio and a pet shop among the retail outlets.

There are also several retail establishments located at major intersections on 13 Mile and 14 Mile roads.

Beverly Hills public school students attend nearby Birmingham Public Schools. The village is also home to two private schools, the Detroit Country Day School and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic School.

For recreation, Wren said Beverly Park on Beverly Road offers several amenities.

“We have a nice pavilion residents can come and rent,” she said. The park also has baseball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, walk-able trails, a playground and a hill used for sledding and snowboarding. Indoor facilities can accommodate parties and recreational events. Picnic areas and fishing are available at Riverside Park, which is situated along the Rouge River.

The 18-acre Douglas Evans Nature Preserve on Evergreen Road north of 13 Mile Road offers nature trails open to the public, Wren said.

The village’s close proximity to Birmingham’s extensive shopping district and to the Detroit metropolitan area makes Beverly Hills ideally suited to residents and guests who want to enjoy nightlife, shop, dine out or just relax in a naturally beautiful setting.

Bingham Farms

Bingham Farms, a quaint village in Oakland County with a population of 1,035 and a land area of 1.25 miles, is located just east of Franklin between 12 Mile Road and 14 Mile Road.

The median home price in Bingham Farms is $381,000. The median income for residents of the village is $123,000.

The village was named for early settlers and one of the drafters of the village’s original charter, Carson C. Bingham, despite Bingham’s objections. The charter was approved by 99 voting residents on Oct. 4, 1955.

Carson Bingham was the grandson of David Bingham, a farmer who came to Michigan at the age of 17 in 1855. Most of the residents in the village at that time were farmers; there were also horse stables originally owned by the Butler family and later purchased by the Outland family.

Early residents, who prized the village’s rural character, worked to retain the village’s country charm and natural beauty as areas around the village began to undergo transformation via development. The Franklin River, which winds through much of the village, was an added defense against over-development because the village’s topography was not conducive to major construction.

Those early efforts continued throughout Bingham Farms’ history and have shaped the town’s modern identity.

The village’s website states: “During the 1980s the village experienced major growth with the development of office buildings and condominiums. The community however, has maintained a healthy balance between the commercial and residential sectors.”

Birmingham

Birmingham’s downtown boasts an eclectic mix of retail, a vibrant restaurant scene, and a bustling entertainment and nightlife district. Nestled in the heart of Oakland County, the city is an upscale enclave located just 20 miles north of Detroit.

“We’re known for our shopping and dining experiences,” said John Heiney, executive director of the Birmingham Shopping District.

Shoppers in search of unique finds and one-of-a-kind boutiques will find them in Birmingham, along with a wide selection of national retailers. Among the city’s more than 300 retail establishments are gift shops, art galleries, antique shops and an assortment of beauty salons and day spas.

The iconic Birmingham Theatre, known as Birmingham 8, lends a special charm to the Old Woodward thoroughfare. The theater was built in 1927 and remodeled into a multiplex in 1996.

Parking is rarely a problem in the city center, where 5,000 parking spaces accommodate motorists. A broad range of culinary selections fit any size budget and appetite.

“We have more than 50 different restaurants, at all price points, from fine dining to fast food,” Heiney said.

The city also offers exceptional educational opportunities, Heiney noted. The award-winning Birmingham Public Schools is complemented by several excellent private school options.

A total of 26 parks dot the community surrounding high-end residential areas where the city’s 20,000 residents make their homes on tree-lined streets. Parkland accounts for about 10 percent of the city’s 4.73 square miles.

Recreational opportunities are headlined by two top-rated nine-hole golf courses.

Parks offer sports facilities, playgrounds, a dog park, picnic grounds, outdoor summer concerts and two miles of trails along the Rouge River.

Indoor and outdoor ice skating is available at the Ice Sports Arena. Sledding and cross-country skiing are available at Lincoln Hills Golf Course.

Shain Park in the city’s downtown hosts the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber’s annual Village Fair and is home to a sculpture titled “The Freedom of the Human Spirit,” created by noted artist Marshall Fredericks.

Birmingham offers a full calendar of special events, from farmers markets, classic car shows and sidewalk sales to parades, live concerts and art fairs.

Settled in 1819, Birmingham was incorporated as a city in 1933. Vintage architecture preserved in the city’s historical district reflects Birmingham’s rich past.

Many homes are within walking distance of the city’s downtown, a feature that prompted the Wall Street Journal to name Birmingham the fifth most walkable suburb in the nation in 2010. Travel & Leisure Magazine calls it “the coolest suburb worth a visit.”

Bloomfield Hills

Serene surroundings and secluded spaces lend the City of Bloomfield Hills a singular sense of tranquility. The city is almost exclusively residential and nearly free of commercial, industrial and business property.

“It’s strictly big houses on big lots,” said Greg Kowalski, community development director of nearby Bloomfield Township.

The upscale atmosphere, where residents include athletes, celebrities and captains of industry, features rolling hills and wooded estates dotted with lakes and ponds.

The city’s only concessions to the business world is a small group of commercial and office buildings at the intersection of Long Lake and Woodward roads and a handful of corporate headquarters, including headquarters for the Acme Group and Taubman Centers.

One of the city’s most awe-inspiring vistas is Vhay Lake, located near the Bloomfield Open Hunt Club. For more than 50 years, the club has hosted equestrian events and has served as the training site for the Michigan Olympic Equestrian Team. The club is also the site of the Motor City Horse Show, one of the largest on the circuit, drawing more than 500 competitors and their horses from all over the world.

The Bloomfield Hills Country Club offers its members an 18-hole private golf course that made its debut in the early part of the 20th century. The club’s rich traditions and historic roots are evident today.

The city also is home to the Cranbrook Educational Community, a National Historic Landmark that consists of a 14-building complex. The community includes the Cranbrook Institute of Science, which features a planetarium and observatory, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Cranbrook Art Museum and the Cranbrook House and Gardens.

The city’s 4.96 square miles of land is home to just over 3,800 residents. Most of the city is in the Bloomfield Hills School District. Children who reside in a small part of the city’s southern section are served by the Birmingham School District. Private schools include Cranbrook Schools, St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School and The Roeper School.

Bloomfield Township

Lakes, wetlands and woodlands abound in Bloomfield Township, providing a naturally stunning setting for the area’s opulent homes.

“It’s a very wealthy township, one of the wealthiest in the country,” said Greg Kowalski, Bloomfield Township community development director. “It’s 95 percent developed and overwhelmingly residential.”

Stately, sprawling mansions are tucked into gently sloping hills, alongside the township’s 19 private lakes. Kowalski said a considerable number of properties are priced in the $10 million to $12 million range.

The township is home to accomplished professionals and leaders of industry.

“A lot of retired executives live here, auto executives and doctors,” Kowalski said.

The area’s culture is a fairly conservative-to-politically-moderate one that embraces and welcomes diverse cultures and backgrounds, Kowalski said.

The township encompasses 27 square miles of land about 20 miles north of Detroit. The township includes no incorporated towns or villages but does include the unincorporated communities of Charing Cross, Circle and Oak Grove. In all, there are about 42,000 residents in the township.

Many people commonly refer to Bloomfield Township as simply, “Bloomfield.” The far-flung township was established in 1827 and includes three zip codes and two area codes.

Good restaurants are plentiful. While most of the area is reserved for residential neighborhoods, several big-box stores, such as Costco, are located within the township. Unlike nearby Birmingham, there is no central business district.

“We don’t have a downtown here,” said Kowalski.

The majority of children residing in Bloomfield Township are within the Bloomfield Hills School District and the Birmingham Public Schools district.

“These are two of the best school districts in the country,” Kowalski said.

The township is home to the main campus of the International Academy, a nationally recognized public high school that serves students from Oakland County school districts and the surrounding area.

Bloomfield Township is also home to the Oakland Hills Country Club, a private golf club that includes two 18-hole courses. The club has hosted the prestigious Ryder Cup, several PGA championships and U.S. Amateur tournaments.

The Bloomfield Township Public Library, incorporated in November 1966, was the first to have a computerized circulation system in the State of Michigan. The library’s most recent expansion was completed in 2008.

Kowalski said the township’s triple-A bond rating reflects service providers’ superior management skills and the premium that community leaders place on providing top-notch customer service.

“It’s a wonderful place to live and work,” he said.

Franklin

With 2.66 square miles of land area, Franklin is a tiny, secluded village tucked into Southfield Township.

“Franklin is a small village that doesn’t have paved roads, doesn’t have a sewer system,” said Greg Kowalski, director of community development for Bloomfield Township. “That’s by design. They want it that way. Franklin bills itself as ‘the town that time forgot.’”

“They are very protective of it,” Kowalski said. “They really have struggled to preserve that rural atmosphere.”

Located in Oakland County, Franklin was first settled in 1824 by tradespeople including blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, bricklayers and shoemakers. The village grew with the addition of flour and feed mills, a lumber mill, a brick and tile yard, a wagon and sleigh shop, a cooperage, a distillery and other shops.

By the 1830s, Franklin was a flourishing community, serving as a gathering place and crossroads of commerce for farming communities scattered throughout Southfield Township. That changed when nearby Birmingham, six miles to the northeast, became a railroad stop and assumed the role of commercial center for the region and automobiles came on the scene, along with highways. Franklin reverted to a more relaxed country community, becoming a home rule village in 1953.

The uncomplicated lifestyle that Franklin offers has since attracted a population of about 3,100 who treasure the village’s simplicity while taking advantage of its close proximity to more highly developed cities and villages in the area.

“It’s lovely,” said Franklin Village Clerk Eileen Pulker. “We’re a historic little village. We’ve got a farmers market running until the end of October on Sundays. We have Music on the Green on Wednesdays in July. And we have a huge community fair on Labor Day.”

The fair, known as Roundup, offers games, food and pony rides and attracts at least 1,000 visitors every year. The Art in the Village art fair, held simultaneously, offers mostly fine art with a sampling of crafts, she said.

Pulker said the village’s downtown includes the Franklin Grill, Farmhouse Coffee and Ice Cream and a few retail stores, including Market Basket, where shoppers can find handmade treasures.

Real estate prices reflect the upscale market’s presence in Franklin, with many luxury residences topping the $1 million mark.

There is also the Franklin Cider Mill, a working enterprise where cider is pressed and bottled. The mill, which Pulker said once had a Franklin address but is on land that now is considered part of Bloomfield Township, is open to the public during cider season, which begins on Labor Day weekend and usually extends until the weekend after Thanksgiving.

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