Grosse Pointe Park to sell several city-owned properties on Alter Road

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 19, 2022

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Several parcels of adjacent property that Grosse Pointe Park owns in Detroit are going on the market.

The Park City Council voted unanimously in favor of selling the properties — located at 2170, 2174, 2180, 2186, 2194, 2226 and 2500 Alter Road — during a meeting Nov. 28. The land is usually referred to as the “Pitters property” because it once housed Phil Pitters Inc., a landscaping, concrete and masonry company.

City Manager Nick Sizeland said the Park bought the land for a total of $392,000 in 2016 and made the last land contract payment on the parcels in January 2022. He said the city bought the property — located just across the Grosse Pointe Park border — with the intent of constructing a new Department of Public Works building there. A new DPW is currently under construction on Mack Avenue instead.

In addition, Sizeland said city officials in 2016 wanted to acquire the land because there was talk at that time of a used car dealership being built there, and the Park wanted some say in whatever might occupy that site.

The land, which is entirely in Detroit, is mostly zoned as a Planned Development District, except for one parcel that Sizeland said is zoned R2 Residential. He said a PD District permits residential, retail, service, park, open space, industrial, mixed and other uses.

Sizeland said Detroit officials “would like to see this property further developed” in the future.

“I think this is a good, healing moment for the community and an opportunity to build the tax base in Detroit,” Sizeland continued.

It would also be an opportunity for the city to acquire some revenue.

“This has the potential to be a budget-relieving strategy,” Mayor Michele Hodges said.

City Councilman Martin McMillan agreed.

“I think it’s a good move,” McMillan said.

City Councilwoman Christine Gallagher asked if the city could still reject any bid that comes in. City Attorney Dan Kelly said they could.

“We had no discussions as a body about selling this property. … Use is also important to our community,” not just price, Gallagher said.

Kelly responded that it’s “within the discretion of the council” to accept or reject a bid based on use.

Kelly said pricing and other considerations are things the council could talk about in closed session before approving a sale.

“We could discuss what conditions we want to put on the sale of the property,” Kelly said.

The city plans on selecting a real estate agent to market the property and find possible bidders. Kelly said this was the city’s best option, as a blind bidding process would mean the city would be selecting a developer based on price alone, not what the developer might plan on putting there.

“From my perspective, you’re fully protected” this way, Kelly told the council.

Hodges echoed that sentiment.

“I think we’re well protected and maintain flexibility” with regard to the sale, Hodges said.

Kelly said the city would be able to keep the bids private until the council had settled on a developer, at which point they would have to approve the sale during open session.

“This is how we do it in most of the communities I represent,” Kelly said.

City Councilman Tom Caulfield asked if the city had used the property. Sizeland said the city hadn’t really used it, except for some storage of materials such as salt, rocks and dirt. He said the city’s usage of the site for material storage diminished over time.

“It has been used — just not by us,” said City Councilman Vikas Relan, who said the landscaping business continued to use it even after the city purchased it.

Sizeland said the city periodically gets calls from developers about the property.

“There’s definitely interest out there,” Sizeland said.

Sizeland said he would solicit proposals from real estate agents for the council to select someone to market the property. He said the city has no deadline for selling the land.