Lathrup Village officials recently announced a request for qualified developers for the House in the Woods property, located on Forest Drive.

Lathrup Village officials recently announced a request for qualified developers for the House in the Woods property, located on Forest Drive.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Lathrup Village searches for House in the Woods developer

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published December 5, 2018

 A home built on the property in the early 20th century belonged to Louise Lathrup.

A home built on the property in the early 20th century belonged to Louise Lathrup.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Officials say the property will be used for housing. In 2012, it was turned into a nature preserve.

Officials say the property will be used for housing. In 2012, it was turned into a nature preserve.

Photo by Deb Jacques

LATHRUP VILLAGE — The city of Lathrup Village is looking for qualified developers to turn the empty House in the Woods property into more housing.

In November, city officials announced that they had issued a request for qualifications for real estate professional services for the 1.3-acre House in the Woods property, located at 19600 Forest Drive.

The property, which belonged to Lathrup Village founder Louise Lathrup, has been utilized as a low-impact nature preserve since 2012.

However, the property is zoned as R-3 Single Family Cluster Housing, which, according to city ordinance, is intended to allow single-family dwelling units.

City Administrator Sheryl Mitchell said city officials want to return the property’s use back to how it is zoned.

Mitchell said she sees the redevelopment as a boost to the city.

“I think it’ll be a positive effect on the community,” Mitchell said. “We had inquiry of the residents adjacent to the property, who said they’d like to see housing on the site.”

The RFQ states that the developer’s plans must enhance the open space on the property while preserving trees and other natural features.

Robin Roberts, the president of the Lathrup Village Historical Society, said that although the property began as a home for the Lathrups in 1926, it has changed hands several times.

“Louise, her husband and her daughter only lived there for a couple of years — that was the Depression, and a lot of things were happening,” Roberts said. “They moved into Town Hall and lived on the second floor and tried to sell the house. Then they eventually started renting the house, and at one point in the 1950s, after Lathrup Village voted to become a city, City Hall and offices were first in there. It got used by a lot of different groups, but Louise never moved back there.”

In 1998, the house and the surrounding property, along with the area of the city built through 1953, were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

On June 19, 2009, Roberts said, the house was struck by lightning and caught fire. The house was completely destroyed in the fire.

“The Historical Society paid for a preservation architect to evaluate the property, but because this was in 2009, when the economy was bad, it was not at all cost effective to renovate the house, even if you divided it into condos and things,” Roberts said.

In September 2010, the property was deeded to the city. Until the present, volunteers ran the nature preserve.

All qualifications are due at 4 p.m. Dec. 7.