Ferndale sells two lots, including one it sold for project that didn’t happen
By Mike Koury
The purchaser of 208 Pinecrest Drive, Lance Starler, wants to build a larger shipping container home than what previously was planned for the site.
Posted May 17, 2017
FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale sold a couple of lots at its last meeting May 8, including one lot that it sold two months ago for a project that fell through.
The first lot that was sold was 1221 Wordsworth St., which is about a half an acre with an 11,479-square-foot building on the land. The land was sold for $70,000 against a $65,000 asking price.
The site was purchased by Jeff Denha, who also owns the neighboring 965 Wanda St. industrial building that contains Brass Aluminum Forging Enterprises and Allied Printing Co.
Community and Economic Development Director Jordan Twardy said the land is an “environmentally challenged site” that was a foundry at one point. He also noted that there are a couple of conditions to the sale of the land, one being that it can’t be used for medical marijuana.
Twardy said that condition was put in there because city staff still is trying to develop a medical marijuana ordinance, and they figured that taking that option out would lead to the land getting developed faster.
“We definitely have users in that industry asking about all the different properties, and one of the things about our master plan is maximizing the potential for our industrial district,” he said. “While that use might be compatible in other spaces in the city, we didn’t necessarily think this site, given the proximity to these other sort of high-intensity industrial uses, we didn’t feel it was a good fit.”
The second condition of the sale, Twardy said, is that the land can’t be conveyed to the railroad, which means the land can’t be sold or transferred to it.
“(The city doesn’t) want it sold to the railroad, because then it doesn’t become taxable,” he said. “Then you basically don’t collect taxes on it, because the railroad’s tax-exempt.”
Also sold at the meeting was 208 Pinecrest Drive, which the city previously sold at the March 13 meeting as the future site of a shipping-container home.
The land went back on the market, Twardy said, because the real estate agent, Thomas Gaunt, of Keller Williams Realty, told the city that they chose not to proceed with the project because they felt there wasn’t enough time to get it done.
Gaunt said the city wanted to make the container home look more like a “real” home, but in his eyes, that defeats the purpose.
He also said that timing was a problem.
“They were going to give us 30 days,” he said. “Then they gave us an extra 30 days, which gave us 60 days total to get through all the due diligence. But just the bureaucracy of getting answers from people about what we wanted to do versus what they wanted us to do, the back-and-forth was just horrific. Messages and no returned phone calls, and then a couple weeks later you finally get a call back, and it just became apparent that, No. 1, they weren’t happy with letting us do exactly what we wanted to do, which was just put it there and not have to put a bunch of added siding and try to change the facade.”
Twardy said he really can’t speak to the communication problems, as he’d have to speak to staff about it, but he said that problems like this can arise with development, and he is happy that another person was able to swoop in with their project. He also said that he wishes Gaunt well with his work and developments.
The land, instead, was bought May 8 by Lance Starler, who at the March 13 meeting bought a piece of land at 857 Camden St. in order to build a shipping-container home there.
Starler, who paid the same price as the land was sold for March 13 — $9,000 — said he still intends to build a shipping-container home on the Pinecrest site, but it will be bigger than the previous buyers imagined.
He said the previous project didn’t really give him the “warm and fuzzies,” as that only was going to be around 300 square feet.
“I don’t think the neighbors and the community as a whole would like to see essentially a trailer plopped down on a main thoroughfare in Ferndale,” he said. “But I do recognize the need for a cost-effective but aesthetically pleasing option.”
Starler plans to move forward with a model that he said will have “cutting-edge” technology and a two-car garage. He said that it will be a 1,000-square-foot ranch and will be comprised of about four shipping containers. He estimated the home to cost anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000, depending on upgrades and finishes.
“Very simple, but very modern, aesthetically pleasing, and we’re going to give it all the new amenities that homebuyers are looking for these days,” he said.
About the author
Staff Writer Mike Koury covers Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge along with the Berkely Schools and Ferndale Schools districts for the Woodward Talk. He has worked at C & G Newspapers since October 2015 and attended Michigan State University. He has been described as “a wonderful angel” by his mother and “sleepy” by his editor.
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