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Beline Obeid
August 29, 2013
Grosse Pointe Park — Plans to move a historic house to make way for the expansion of Beaumont Hospital’s parking facilities hit a snag Monday night when the Grosse Pointe Park city council tabled a joint request from the hospital and a Park homeowner to relocate the house to the corner of Jefferson and Harvard.

The gray frame house, known as the Cadieux Farmhouse, is currently located at the corner of Jefferson and Notre Dame in the City of Grosse Pointe. Built in the 1850s, it is believed to be one of the last original farmhouses still standing in Grosse Pointe.

Beaumont Hospital, seeking to expand its Grosse Pointe campus, had offered to underwrite the moving costs, estimated at more than $50,000, if the house could be relocated.

Grosse Pointe Park resident Stephen Thiel and his wife, Lisa, approached Beaumont about moving the house to the property they own at the corner of Jefferson and Harvard in Grosse Pointe Park. They plan to use the house as an “accessory” building, suggesting either a gate house or guest house

“We have spent the last six months working to find a suitable home for this historical house,” Beaumont spokesman Michael Hoeflein told the council. “This is the best option out there, as it will be a straight shot down Jefferson. We have spoken with the Grosse Pointe Historical Society and neighbors, and they are all on board with the plan.”

While Hoeflein presented the plan as a win-win for both the hospital and historical preservation, some members of the Park city council didn’t see it the same way.

“I’m happy people are trying to save the house,” said councilman Dan Grano,”but I’m concerned about its intended use. We’re letting them have a carriage house, but there might be better locations for this house.”

Councilman Dan Clark questioned whether a lot split might be requested in the future.

“We ought to view this from a long term perspective,” he said. “This is currently a house and when it moves, it will remain intact as a house. We’d be passively saying that a lot split now is OK.” Clark also questioned the setback of the house, and if it was in line with other houses along Jefferson.

Council member Laurie Arora challenged the question of a lot split.

“We can’t make a decision on a lot split when no one has asked for one,” she said, and thanked Thiel and Beaumont for working to preserve the house.

“Someone had suggested moving the house to Three Mile Park, but that would put the burden of caring for it on the city,” she said.

Council member Bob Denner also appeared in favor of moving the house to the Thiel property.

“There are several appealing things about this location,” he said. “For historical reasons, it belongs in Grosse Pointe Park, and I thank Mr. Thiel for taking on this project.”

The house was originally located on Bishop in the Park, but was moved to its present location in 1870. It was restored in the late 1980s, and purchased by a private owner in 1991.

Beaumont Hospital bought the house, along with several other properties on Notre Dame, in 2011 to make way for expansion. The house was occupied until earlier this year.

When asked why he wanted to take on this project, Thiel said he sees it from both a developer’s point of view and as a Grosse Pointe resident’s perspective.

“I’m a developer, this is what I do,” he replied. “I’ve grown up riding my bike past this house. It means something to me.”

Complicating the discussion of relocating the house was the absence from the council meeting of city attorney Dennis Levasseur, who was excused due to illness. Council members were unsure how to move forward without guidance from the city attorney on the question of whether variances would be required now or in the future.

“We don’t have our lawyer here,” Mayor Palmer Heenan said, “but I’m favorably disposed to putting it on this proposed location, but other council members want to talk to the lawyer.”

Heenan then tabled the discussion until the Park’s next council meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9.

Following the meeting, Thiel said he was encouraged by the response of several council members.

“I thought it went well, he said. “I think we have the support of several council members and I’m confident we can resolve all the issues presented tonight.”

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