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BEVERLY HILLS

There may be a better known one over on the West Coast, but Michigan’s Beverly Hills has plenty of class and elegance all on its own.

This charming little village with a swanky name fits a lot in its 4.25 square miles, including top-notch municipal services, varied housing options, excellent public and private schools, parks and even two nature preserves.

The village is independently rated among the safest municipalities in Michigan, and one of the best to raise a family. In 2019, SafeWise, an independent safety and security research firm, named Beverly Hills the second safest city in Michigan.

If safety is the norm in Beverly Hills, what makes it unique? That would be the village’s two nature preserves, says Douglas Evans Nature Preserve and Hidden Rivers Nature Preserve, both of which are restricted by deed to remain in their natural states. Though public access is limited at the 18-acre Douglas Evans Nature Preserve, visitors are allowed for walking. Both preserves are home to a stunning variety of native plant species and wildlife.

The 34-acre Beverly Park offers numerous activities, including a sled hill and ice skating rink, sand volleyball and basketball courts, two baseball fields and two tennis courts, a large playground, disc golf course, and a wooded area with trails for biking and hiking.  If rigorous activity isn’t for you, there is also the smaller half-acre Riverside Park, where visitors can sit, have a picnic, even go fishing in the mill pond.

Throughout the year, the village hosts an array of community events, including the Memorial Parade and the Halloween Hoot. In the winter months, Beverly Park holds pop-up Winter Family Fun Day events, where you can go sledding, ice skating and cross country skiing.

The superior Birmingham public school district serves the residents of Beverly Hills. There are private options as well with schools like Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and the prestigious Detroit Country Day School.

For more information about the Village of Beverly Hills, visit www.villagebeverlyhills.com.

Beverly Hills FACTS

Population (2018): 10,410
Average home value: $341,500
Average household income: $111,765
Main attraction: Two pristine nature preserves, Douglas Evans and Hidden Rivers

BINGHAM FARMS

Take a little country charm, add a dash of elegance, mix in some peaceful neighborhoods, and you’ll have Bingham Farms.

The little village just south of Birmingham might not have the notoriety of its municipal neighbors, but that’s precisely the point. Bingham Farms is quaint, quiet and safe – all the things that help make a place a home.

“Residents tend to relish the village’s rural-like environment,” says Ken Marten, Bingham Farms Village Manager. “Large, heavily wooded lots with rivers, ravines and rolling hills create a ‘town in the country’ atmosphere.”

Indeed, Bingham Farms exists for its residents – for those who want a sweet respite from the hustle and bustle of the Woodward corridor. The village is home to 487 single-family homes on 1.25 square miles of land that’s located east of Telegraph Road and south of 14 Mile Road.

Before it was incorporated into a village, the area that is now Bingham Farms almost became part of neighboring Southfield. Residents who lived in the future Bingham Farms fought against it, believing that its unique natural landscape deserved its own identity. It became the Village of Bingham Farms in 1955.

Over the years, the village has been dedicated to maintaining its rural charm through strategic land use plans and ordinances. However, despite its reputation as a small-town rural gem, Bingham Farms boasts some of the area’s most stately and elegant homes, says Marten.

Though governed by its own village council, Bingham Farms shares fire and police services with neighboring Franklin. Residents can use the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham. The village is part of the Birmingham City School District, consistently ranked as one of the best public school systems in the state of Michigan.

For more information on Bingham Farms, please visit the website at www.binghamfarms.org

Bingham Farms FACTS

Population (2010 Census): 1,111
Average home price: $379,700
Average household income: $130,000
Main attraction: According to Village Manager Ken Marten, “the main attractions are the gorgeous homes and landscapes. The main commercial attraction is the Telegraph corridor, lined with professional office buildings that house nearly 600 businesses.”

Birmingham

You only need to visit Birmingham once to understand what all the fuss is about.

Whether it’s the high-end shopping district, idyllic parks or the classically elegant homes, Birmingham has a magic that’s hard to miss.

“Birmingham’s uniqueness includes having more than 20 parks in a city that is less than 5 miles in circumference,” says City Manager Joseph Valentine. “With that, however, the city’s main attraction is the downtown. From an iconic movie theater sign to its history as a retail and shopping destination, Birmingham’s downtown continues to grow in stature from generation to generation.”

It turns out the past year has been a major one for the city’s stature: The massive Old Woodward Reconstruction Project was completed in late summer 2018 – on time and within budget. In addition to a new, underground infrastructure from Brown to Oakland streets, the project resulted in a new concrete road, mid-block crossing and recessed curbs, and wider sidewalks for greater pedestrian accessibility.

In addition, Birmingham opened a new fire station, Birmingham Fire Station No. 2, last fall. The new station boasts a larger apparatus storage bay than the original station, which is important to meet the fire department’s needs as the city increases its calls for service.

“The department continues to experience increases in service calls – particularly those related to medical responses,” says Valentine, “and the larger apparatus storage bay means the fire department has the capacity to efficiently store its first response equipment and vehicles, while meeting the needs of the community and leaving room for future growth.”

Birmingham has more to boast about: The city’s 2019-20 fiscal year, which began on July 1, marks the eighth consecutive year of revenue growth. This enviable financial position enables the city to offer first-rate services while continuing its infrastructure improvements.

The coming year will see another massive project get under way. The Maple Road Reconstruction Project between Woodward Avenue and Southfield Road will kick off in the spring of 2020, replacing aging, underground infrastructure, and install a new concrete road and wider sidewalks that will further boost the city’s walkability factor.

The Maple Road project will get the most attention next year, but Valentine says that it’s the ongoing attention to service quality and planning that makes the city stand out from the rest.

“I think this style of planning makes Birmingham unique and it is reflected in the desire of people that choose to live, play and work here,” he says.

It’s all part of how a world-class city continues to improve on its success.

City of Birmingham FACTS

Population (2018): 21,322
Average home price (as of 2016): $514,000
Average household income: $116,000
City’s main attraction: Its vibrant downtown

Bloomfield Hills

The homes and the estates in Bloomfield Hills are indeed something to behold, but really, they’re only an accompaniment to the lush natural landscapes that surround them.

Bloomfield Hills is a rustic jewel – all rolling hills, tree-lined streets and streams that make you forget it sits along Woodward Avenue.   

And the city would like to keep it that way.

“The City of Bloomfield Hills is primarily a residential community where residents enjoy the privacy and serenity of their estate sized lots nestled in the heart of Oakland County,” says City Manager David Hendrickson. “Bloomfield Hills balances attracting thoughtful redevelopment while maintaining the character and significant natural beauty
and resources enjoyed throughout the community.”

“Thoughtful redevelopment” is the key concept. In its planning, the city has been committed to maintaining the open spaces and natural character of the landscape. In other words, don’t expect Bloomfield Hills to be a busy metropolis anytime soon.

Still, the city is home to some of the most prestigious schools, buildings and religious institutions in the state. There’s the Cranbrook Education Community – including Cranbrook Art Museum, Institute of Science, and Cranbrook Schools – which occupies a stunning 319-acre campus punctuated by world-class gardens, art and architecture.

In addition to Cranbrook Schools, the city has a first-rate public school system, Bloomfield Hills School District, and one of the most exclusive private schools in the country, the Roeper School.

The Manresa Jesuit Retreat House is a spiritual respite from the chaos of modern life. Its 39-acre campus welcomes visitors to retreats, educational and support groups, and prayer experiences.

The intersection at Woodward and Long Lake Road serves as the city’s primary business center, with predominantly office buildings and professional services as its main sectors.

For more information on Bloomfield Hills and Cranbrook, visit www.bloomfieldhillsmi.net and www.cranbrook.edu

Bloomfield Hills FACTS

Population (2010 Census): 3,869
Average home value: $787,420
Average household income: $144,967
Main Attraction: Prestigious educational, cultural and religious institutions, like Cranbook Educational Community and Manresa Jesuit Retreat House

Bloomfield Township

Bloomfield Township isn’t far away, but being there can make you feel like you’re a world away.

The expansive stretches of lush green lots hold elegant homes that are never too far away from idyllic parks, lakes and streams. With hidden patches of loveliness around each bend in the road, Bloomfield Township always seems like it was taken out of a storybook.

“Bloomfield Township is consistently rated by various agencies as one of the best places to live anywhere,” says Greg Kowalski, Bloomfield Township Director of Community Relations.

It’s easy to see why: In addition to its 26 miles of aesthetic charm, the township has world-class … well, everything.

“The township is cited for its excellent services including police, fire, road snow removal and salting and pothole repairs. Crime is exceptionally low,” says Kowalski. “The township is also one of the few communities in the state that has a AAA bond rating, which is a reflection of its solid financial base.”

There are also impressive flourishes like Oakland Hills Golf Course, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 2004, and is recognized as one of the best courses in the nation.

The Bloomfield Hills School District is rated as one of the top public school districts in the United States, while the annual Township Open House, a family-friendly collection of activities that will be held this year on Oct. 13, draws visitors from far beyond the township.

Another big event for the township is the Classic Car Show and Bill Wells Car Club Classic, held every year on Dream Cruise Saturday. The Mercedes-Benz of Bloomfield Hills dealership and the Comerica Bank on Woodward host the popular shindig, which always draws a large crowd.

Also of note are the township’s senior services, which feature a superior senior center with plenty of programs, including the Friendship Club, an adult day care for individuals with dementia.

At heart, Bloomfield is a place to call home – literally. The township is 95% residential, with the main business activity situated along Woodward, Telegraph and Maple Roads.

It’s all part of living in a township that Kowalski sums up in one succinct sentence.

“The quality of life here is exceptional,” he says.

Bloomfield Township FACTS

Population (2018 estimate): 41,604
Average home price: $383,000
Median household income: $115,000
Main attractions: According to Bloomfield Township Director of Community Relations Greg Kowalski, the township has several. One is The Charles L. Bowers School farm, which is a big attraction for the area, as is the E.L. Johnson Nature Center.

Franklin

The Village of Franklin is quite happy to be stuck in the past, thank you very much.

Draped proudly in history, memory and the wistful nostalgia of an old-time Michigan village, Franklin is nestled serenely to the south of Bloomfield Township and the west of Bingham Farms.

Known as the “town that time forgot,” the village does seem to harken back to a simpler time, a time before the noise and rush of the 21st century, when life seemed to move at its own leisurely pace.

When asked what makes the village unique, Franklin Village Administrator Jim Creech has a ready response:

“Old-fashioned events and attitudes, and pride of home ownership, with beautiful, meandering tree line streets with a nationally and locally recognized historic district,” he says. “A place in the country minutes from the metro area.”

It would be an understatement to say this 2.7 square-mile gem values its history. The village is its history. Recognized as a national historic district in 1969, Franklin was the first national register district in Michigan.

First settled in 1824 by settlers from New England, Franklin preserves much of the historic architecture of the town’s buildings, while re-purposing them for modern use. The Franklin Grill & Tavern, for example, still has the original two-story frame that housed the Congleton Carriage Shop in 1840.

The village is part of the Birmingham School District, and police and fire protection is provided by a partnership with neighbor Bingham Farms. The village has its own library, the Franklin Public Library, which offers free events for children and adults, including story hours, play groups, book discussions and lectures.

Even the village events have an old-fashioned feel that seems designed to bring neighbors together. During the summer, there are Music on the Green concerts each week in July, and Movies on the Green each week in August. Labor Day weekend means it’s time for the annual Round Up and Art on the Green event.

For more information about Franklin, visit www.franklin.mi.us

Franklin FACTS

Population (2018 estimate): 2,989
Average home value: $478,500
Average household income: $143,289
Main Attraction: Franklin Grill, Music on the Green, Labor Day Round Up and Art on the Green, and just north of town is the Franklin Cider Mill (technically Bloomfield Township)