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To the Editor:

Condominiums are certainly needed in the Grosse Pointes with many "empty nesters" wishing to downsize.

This is a community planning issue. One would hope that good condominium locations would be determined by careful study resulting in a master plan, rather than as a response to developer opportunities.

The proposal for condominiums at 50 and 60 Lakeshore comes from a developer with Grosse Pointe War Memorial backing. As presented, the individual condominiums seem large for people who wish to downsize.

In addition, the three condominium buildings themselves seem large in proportion to the available space and of a higher density than is desirable for such a prime community location.

In our opinion, two or possibly three condominiums per building, and smaller ones than proposed, might be acceptable.

However, serious thought needs to be given to the planning issue as that area has always been a neighborhood of single family residences on both sides of Lakeshore. If an understanding cannot be reached with the neighbors, the project, even in a smaller, altered state, should not be forced on the neighborhood.

The premise on which the War Memorial bases the proposal seems flawed. They say that they have tried to sell the two homes for two years without success. The War Memorial, in paying roughly $4 million each for the two homes, may have paid too much.

The next step after breaking the deed restrictions was for the War Memorial to try to get its money back. However, instead of putting the homes on the market at the price paid, they apparently asked $4.9 million and $5.2 million for the homes. Of course the homes didn't sell. How could they sell at those prices?

Now the community is told that no buyers are interested in the two houses. We don't pretend to know what the appropriate asking price would be for the houses, but we are certain it's not $4.9 million and $5.2 million, and it's probably less than the roughly $4 million each the War Memorial is reported to have paid.

The next step to get a return on the War Memorial's investment was to propose the three condominium buildings. The fact that the proposed developer sits on the War Memorial board would seem to represent a conflict of interest.

The War Memorial certainly had the right to enter the real estate market. However, this financial wheeling and dealing seems inappropriate for a nonprofit community organization.

We hope the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council will not feel it necessary to create a bailout for the War Memorial. They got themselves into this situation.

Perhaps it will eventually be necessary for them to sell the properties at a loss. That shouldn't be the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council's problem.

Anne and Gilbert Hudson

City of Grosse Pointe

Anne and Gilbert Hudson
City of Grosse Pointe
June 24, 2004

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