Sakura Novi is working to bring in the best concepts in Asian cuisine such as Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, Gyu Kaku Japanese BBQ, Paris Baguette, and Ramen Misoya; along with lifestyle services such as a hair salon, spa and yoga studio; 15,000 sf of office space; Asian-inspired gardens with a play area surrounding a pond; and 118 townhome apartments.

Town leaders have been working hard for years to get this City-owned land rezoned to bring this concept to life.  Currently in pre-development, once completed, Sakura Novi will be a centerpiece in the City’s efforts to foster a welcoming, international district in the heart of downtown.  The new restaurant / retail collection and its public amenities, added to local stalwarts such as One World Market and Ajishin, as well as the many new residential options downtown, will create an increasingly fun, cosmopolitan urban fabric.

At a meeting at the City of Novi Civic Center in August, 2016, community leaders, including members of City Council, representatives from Oakland County, Japanese Deputy Consul General Ryoji Noda, and Japanese Business Society of Detroit Executive Director Shosaku Ueda, brainstormed what this vision of an Asian-themed district should provide.  One theme mentioned at that meeting was inclusivity.  The name, Sakura Novi, is, first, a bow of the head to the very important Japanese ex patriot population in southeast Michigan.  Sakura Novi is also a note of welcome and an invitation to citizens of other Asian nations living in the community, Michigan’s large Asian-Americans population, and everyone to enjoy Novi’s hospitality with an international flair.  Of particular importance for this project, and again responding to input from that first meeting, is to create an integrated environment where hard-working executives and members of their families can rest and relax around the pond and gardens, have a good time at the restaurants and shops, and return home all within a single, safe campus.  The 24/7 live-work-play environment at Sakura Novi is intended to create an energy and authenticity that will sustain itself over time and even create interesting new dynamics that help downtown Novi grow and evolve in surprising and delightful ways.

The development group, Sakura Novi Land Development, LLC, is now working with the City of Novi to secure the final rezoning of the land, with the hope of having shovels in the ground in Fall 2021 and the Grand Opening in Spring 2023.  Especially with the impact of the COVID19 pandemic, it has been a long journey to get to this point.  There have been many technical details to work out, including a brownfield, a State regulated wetland, geo-technical conditions, and COVID19-related leasing challenges.

As Novi City Council contemplates the next steps in the development process, including the essential rezoning of the land, they will each need to reflect on whether they believe that Sakura Novi’s effort to create a hospitable international district is still a strong approach to Novi’s on-going evolution.  From all the positive comments that have been and will be written and said about Sakura Novi, we believe the clear answer is “absolutely”!

Photo/Text: Scott Aikens, Phil Kim & Jim Clarke