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Beline Obeid

Deeplands development talks continue

Brad Lindberg Staff Writer
February 04, 2016
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Neighborhoods on side roads in Grosse Pointe Shores are quieter than most, but some bordering an estate on South Deeplands two blocks from Lake St. Clair are twice as quiet because — either facing or backed up to the estate — they have half as many houses.

The estate, also, is at least doubly quiet for its vacancy.

No one lives on the nearly 8-acre property designated 55 South Deeplands.

Yet, its lawn, flower gardens, ornamental and upper-canopy trees are maintained as though someone does.

The setting profits surrounding neighbors with a silent, park-like context and visual extension of their own yards, as though abutting the back nine of a private golf course no one plays.

Upsetting this elegant equilibrium is the prospect of developers employing the land as 30 townhouses in 18 buildings.

This is prospective because developers Bradley Foster, founder of Foster Financial in the City of Grosse Pointe and Michael Verruto of Eden Gate Equity, Philadelphia, neither own the property nor sought municipal officials to rezone it from single-family dwellings.

The main things Foster and Verruto have done is deliver concept drawings and descriptions to city hall in November, plus host an information meeting at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club for residents living near 55 Deeplands.

“They’re trying to work with residents,” said Mark Wollenweber, city manager.

“We have not been presented a concrete plan,” said Mayor Ted Kedzierski, adding he wasn’t invited to the meeting despite living one block from the estate. “First, it has to go to the planning commission. They have jurisdiction over initial plans.”

The commission canceled its January meeting “due to lack of agenda items.”

The nearly square-block estate is surrounded by sections of South Deeplands, Sheldon, Fordcroft, Ballantyne and pierced a short distance by Deeplands Court, a dead end off Ballantyne.

Bharani Yerramalli, a Fordcroft homeowner with rear yard bordering the estate, believes townhouses are untenable because their projected price exceeds market rates.

“During the presentation, it was a $1 to $2.5 million estimate,” Yerramalli, said. “A week later, it came down to $800,000 to $1.5 million. Two-thousand-square-foot, attached-wall town homes for $1 million? Really?”

He contrasted the price to comparably-sized condominiums costing about $350,000 a half mile further inland on Cook Road in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Values of 10 houses on Yerramalli’s side of Fordcroft next to 55 South Deeplands average $617,009, according to top estimates culled from real estate Internet sites Zillow, Trulia, Homefact and Realtor, and range in size from 3,314 to 4,879 square feet.

Average prices and sizes of houses on the other border roads are:

Sheldon, four houses, $692,742, from 3,622 to 7,006 square feet.

Ballantyne, one house, $548,000, 3,783 square feet;

Deeplands Court, four houses, $569,768, from 2,290 to 6,139 square feet and

South Deeplands, 12 houses excluding the estate, $514,028, from 3,183 to 5,564 square feet.

Only four estimated values are within $100,000 of the townhouses’ proposed $800,000 minimum market value as cited by Yerramalli. Just one house, on Deeplands Court, exceeds the minimum at $950,000.

None are valued at $1 million or more.

James Case, a neighboring Sheldon homeowner, said he hasn’t heard from the developers other than at the yacht club presentation, which he qualified as “dictatorial” and “contentious” but “polite.”

“We don’t think it’s in the best interests of the neighborhood, certainly not of the city,” Case said.

His concerns extend to a large construction project overwhelming existing municipal infrastructure, particularly the water and sewer system.

Analysis of the townhouses’ impact on city services and traffic is required as part of the evaluation process, Wollenweber said.

“Our concept of that zone is single family,” Kedzierski said. “That’s what we’ve got to live with. We have to make decisions in the best interest of the city.”

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