Low-income senior housing proposed for Eagle Elementary site

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 1, 2018

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A new senior housing project proposal has drawn criticism from residents recently.

Stone Hill of West Bloomfield, an independent living development, is proposed for 9.5 acres at the location of the former Eagle Elementary School, 29410 14 Mile Road, at the intersection of 14 Mile Road and Middlebelt Road.

The developers of the project went before the West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees in January to discuss the development.

The Stone Hill development would include 162 units — 79 one-bedroom and 83 two-bedroom apartments. Fifty-one of the units in the development would be considered affordable housing for low-income seniors. 

The 51 affordable units would rent for $600 to $800 per month. The rest of the apartments would rent for between $2,700 and $3,400 per month, including all services. 

To have affordable units, the developers have to obtain PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, approval from the township board. PILOT is a statewide law that allows property owners to pay an amount to the township each year, 10 percent of net shelter rent, instead of paying taxes on those units. 

“The PILOT program is authorized by the state of Michigan,” said Robert Scripture, township assessor. “The way the program works is that instead of paying taxes on the property, it’s an established payment that is distributed through all taxing authorities.” 

The development could move forward without the PILOT approval, but that would mean that the affordable housing wouldn’t exist anymore, said township Planning Director Amy Neary. 

Residents would qualify for the affordable units as long as they make 60 percent or less of the area’s median income, which equals about $33,000. Qualification is based on income, not on assets. 

Kevin Brown, vice president of development at PIRHL, one of the developers on the project, said that 46 of PIRHL’s 48 properties offer affordable housing for residents. 

“We’re just trying to provide high-quality housing,” he said. 

In addition to affordable housing, Stone Hill would offer a full suite of services, including concierge service, shuttle bus transportation, emergency response pendants, a beauty shop, a fitness center, activity rooms, and organized outings to museums, concerts and sporting events. 

The development would also offer base-level medical services for residents, as well as a la carte services like meal service, housekeeping and laundry. 

Stone Hill would be developed in two phases, with the first phase including 124 units — 63 one-bedroom and 61 two-bedroom units — that would be constructed in 2018 and would be ready for occupancy in 2019. 

Phase two would include 38 units and would be planned for 2020. 

Residents came to the meeting with concerns. 

“I’m strongly opposed to this proposal,” said resident Judith Shewach. “The proposed architectural design of the facility is unsuitable to the surrounding area. ... There’s a multitude of facilities being built or are in existence for seniors in this area.”

Shewach said that she thinks the area should be developed, but into a different type of development, like a smaller condominium complex. 

Residents Joel Katz and Judith Shumaker-Holland said that the market for senior living in West Bloomfield and the surrounding area is saturated, that the existing senior living facilities are not full and are actively seeking residents. 

“We have to preserve our neighborhoods,” said Shumaker-Holland. “I think that this building … will be a negative.” 

The Board of Trustees did not decide on any action during the meeting, as it was just for discussion. 

The topic of the PILOT program will be decided on at a future board meeting.