GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Municipal property at Mack and Moross will remain zoned for public service until the right developer presents “a wonderful idea that’s a win-win for everybody,” according to an incumbent candidate for city council.
“We tried to get developers involved in developing it,” said Councilman Martin West, seeking reelection to the Grosse Pointe Farms council Tuesday, Nov. 5. “There were no takers. With the economy getting better, we might.”
Until then, the municipal soccer field remains and the dog park will be doubled in size with help from a $200,000 donation by the Farms Foundation.
The city bought property at Mack and Moross about 20 years ago to clear commercial space, including a Sears store, that was contributing to blight.
“However, it has been a number of years and it has not been redeveloped,” according to a question presented to council candidates at an Oct. 16 forum presented by the League of Women Voters of Grosse Pointe. “What are your plans to put this (property) back to productive use and return it to the tax rolls?
“For the foreseeable future, I don’t see anything changing right now, unless some developer comes to us with a wonderful idea that’s a win-win for everybody,” West answered.
“I’d like to see some development,” said challenger Elizabeth Vogel. “But, we’re not seeing community meetings or an active approach. I’d like to see a meeting, invite residents, ask them what they’d like to see.”
“There have been more meetings, more studies, more requests for input, more analysis for that parcel of property than you can ever possibly imagine,” said 16-year incumbent Councilman Peter W. Waldmeir. “We’ve talked to developers. They don’t want to develop it. The economy hasn’t cooperated.”
“In the long term, I’d like to see police, fire and city hall there,” said Councilman Louis Theros, seeking a fourth term. “Right now, as a green space, it looks pleasurable for people entering our community.”
A follow-up questioner suggested using the corner for senior housing.
“We’ve studied senior housing and a library,” Waldmeir said. “Those needs have been fulfilled in other areas of the Pointes.”
“There are no developers interested in putting senior housing at Mack and Moross that we’re aware of,” Waldmeir said. “There has been so much senior housing pursued in the other Pointes right now that the use of that property for senior housing may not be as important as it was thought to be 20 years ago when we first took that property into inventory.”
“If there were a viable plan in addition to city hall, police and fire, senior housing, I’d be more than willing to take a look at it,” Theros said.
“The second floor of Cottage Hospital is being converted to assisted living,” West said. “The Rivers (senior living) development (on Cook Road in Grosse Pointe Woods) is huge.”
“Senior housing would have been a viable option,” Vogel said. “Because we missed the boat, other communities have capitalized on the ability to develop senior housing. I don’t think there’s need there anymore.”
“We have a valuable piece of property which we keep in inventory in case there is a useful need in the future,” Waldmeir said. “In the meantime, we keep it as the gateway to the Pointes that can be used by residents.”