Sale of former prison property planned

Signature Associates President Steve Gordon



Feb. 9, 2018  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

Plymouth Michigan News



“If it’s so hot (the property potential) how come you don’t have multiple developers?”


Another chapter


Don Howard

Staff Writer


While great enthusiasm surrounds the potential sale of undeveloped land located in Plymouth Township that once was home to the Detroit House of Corrections prison-farm, and the subject of a protracted legal battle, Plymouth Township Treasurer Mark Clinton expects the municipality will merely “break even” on the deal.

The undeveloped vacant land is located within the highly acclaimed Five Mile Corridor located at Five Mile and Ridge Road. Northville Township Supervisor Robert Nix II along with Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise said they look forward to the time when the vacant land in the Five Mile Corridor a turns into a successful “Michigan International Technology Center-Business Park.”

The Plymouth Township parcel is listed for $4,485,000, or $33,691 per acre. One beneficiary of the sale is Wayne County and another is Plymouth Township which still owes the Bank of Ann Arbor $356,000 after paying $250,000 in quarterly payments of $17,681 since borrowing funding to buy the land at an erroneous tax sale.

Former DeMattia President and CEO Gary Roberts

In 2011, township officials purchased the land, which at one time had been valued on tax rolls at more that $15 million, during a tax foreclosure sale for $606,149.98, the amount of foreclosed taxes, interest, and fees. One hundred ninety acres of the land was subsequently returned to Detroit by the courts after lawyers for the city proved the foreclosure was unlawful and the resultant tax sale invalid. That acreage was part of a 323-acre parcel on which Wayne County foreclosed when the recorded owners, Demco 54, a subsidiary of DeMattia Corp. failed to pay taxes.

In the fall of 2016, Plymouth Township reached a settlement agreement with Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree to settle the ongoing legal dispute after the 190-acre parcel of land was returned to Detroit. Sabree and township officials agreed to the payment of surplus proceeds to the county should the property be sold.

According to the principal language of that agreement, signed by Sabree and former Township Supervisor Shannon Price, the township will be allowed to retain the $606,149.98 and “Reasonable attorney fees spent by the Township in all related ligation and settlement negotiations… not to exceed $135,000 and the cost of litigation or money judgment against Township due to a lawsuit by the City of Detroit…”

Representatives from Signature Associates, the real estate firm selected to market the land, said of the 133 acres only 71 acres can be developed and the remaining 62 acres are wetland. The land was appraised at $4 million.

Former DeMattia President and CEO Gary Roberts, acting real estate consultant and marketing expert for the DeHoCo land parcel, predicted the sale, part of a larger 800-acre area in the Five Mile corridor, could bring 6,000 to 8,000 new jobs to the community. Roberts told members of the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees that he will be paid as a design consultant for the DeHoCo land after the sale. Roberts is currently employed by Northville Township as a consultant. Nix is a commercial real-estate attorney.

At a recent township board meeting, Signature Associates President Steve Gordon and broker David Green presented a status report on their progress with the real estate listing.

Gordon told board members he has conducted an aggressive marketing effort and said, “The future of Plymouth Township lies in developing property.” Gordon’s Signature Group stands to make a 6-percent commission or $270,000 if they are successful. He presented one prospect he has entertained as an interested party, Hillside Investments of Plymouth.

“We know the properties, we know the developers, and we know the buyers,” Gordon expounded.

“If it’s so hot (the property potential) how come you don’t have multiple developers?” asked Trustee Chuck Curmi.

“Most developers went away during the downturn and only 10 or 12 are qualified, and we know them all. Construction costs are at all-time high. Michigan is a snake pit,” Gordon responded.

Hillside Investments and Gordon are scheduled to return to present another overview and address the board of trustees to answer questions at the next regular township meeting in February.

“When the whole thing is over all we’re going to do is break even,” commented Clinton following the discussion.


Plymouth Voice.

Photos: © Don Howard / Associated Newspapers


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