GPCRDA committee to meet with agents about marketing incinerator property

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 6, 2019

GROSSE POINTE CITY — If governmental bodies made New Year’s resolutions, a top one for the Grosse Pointes-Clinton Refuse Disposal Authority would be finding a buyer for the GPCRDA’s long-vacant former incinerator parcel at 33701 Lipke Road in Clinton Township.

The 64-acre parcel has been listed by Southfield-based Signature Associates since October 2017, but it’s unclear if that company will continue to market it. During a Jan. 8 GPCRDA Board meeting in Grosse Pointe City, GPCRDA Attorney John Gillooly said their most recent exclusive listing agreement with Signature Associates had expired 30 days earlier.

GPCRDA Board Chair Brett Smith said they had been contacted by another local real estate professional, John DeWald, about the property, and Gillooly recommended that a committee of board members should meet with DeWald and Signature Associates to discuss their respective plans for finding a buyer. DeWald, a principal with Southfield-based P.A. Commercial, is a former Grosse Pointe Shores village clerk and Shores Planning Commission member. The incinerator land has been vacant since the incinerator ceased operations in 1999.

The incinerator was demolished in 2001, after which an independent company was brought in to conduct environmental testing at the site. Results of those tests, compiled in a 2001 report prepared by Conestoga-Rovers and Associates, came back fairly clean, with no PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, volatile organic compounds or semivolatile organic compounds found in surface water or lake sediment at the site. Although a few hard metals were detected, they were generally at only slightly higher concentrations than some government standards for residential direct contact.

GPCRDA officials believe the most likely buyer for the land would be an industrial developer, but they’re open to other purchasers as well. Although the incinerator parcel is flanked by industrial users, it also abuts a residential neighborhood.

In 2002, the Clinton Township Board of Trustees voted to rezone the property from light industrial to R-5 single family. In 2003, the Clinton Township board approved a resolution that set some specific parameters for development of the property that would have allowed for higher-density residential use, in the form of condominiums. However, none of the residential developments proposed for the property in those initial years after the incinerator shutdown came to fruition, and the collapse of the housing market circa 2008 and the recession that followed effectively brought a halt to efforts to find a developer.

Besides their reluctance to accept future potential liability for the property, residential developers were skittish about some of the challenges posed by the parcel — which, despite its size, is complicated by natural and man-made factors. Only 25 of its acres can be developed for housing, since another 20 are occupied by a lake, and 19 were once used as a landfill and therefore can be developed for recreation but not housing. Residents living near the property had led the push for residential development a decade ago.

“We’ve had very little, if any, activity with (Signature Associates),” Smith told the board.

Smith, Gillooly and GPCRDA Board member Terry Brennan are slated to meet with the real estate agents before the next GPCRDA Board meeting in March.

“I’m interested in what they have to say,” Brennan said of the meeting, which hadn’t been scheduled at press time. “It’s (been) pretty stagnant.”

As of Jan. 15, the listing price for the property remained at $950,000.

“We continue to believe that cooperation with Clinton Township is the best way to dispose of the property,” Gillooly said after the Jan. 8 meeting. He said the GPCRDA hopes to engage with Clinton Township officials to find the best use for the land.

“It cannot sit vacant forever,” Gillooly said.

Smith said the board hopes to make a decision on the real estate agent and firm representing the property at its next regular meeting, which was scheduled, at press time, for 5:30 p.m. March 12 in Grosse Pointe Farms.