Labadie Park is ready for development at the corner of Labadie and Second streets. MJC Labadie recently took control of the property and plans to start redeveloping the incomplete complex next month.
By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The City Council is selling Labadie Park in an effort to get the long-dormant housing project rolling again.
MJC Labadie LLC’s purchase of the undeveloped condominium complex was approved July 26. MJC Labadie is part of Macomb-based MJC Cos. – a privately owned building firm that runs three complexes each in Taylor and Brownstown Township and another in Wyandotte, as well as several others throughout the tri-county area.
Labadie Park, at Labadie and Second streets, originally was created in 2005 with the intent of becoming 92 homes ranging from townhouses to terrace apartments and three sizes of single-family units.
“We’ve revamped and revived the site plan,” said Anthony LoDuca, associate developer of MJC Labadie. “The previous developer, Steppingstone, did a fantastic job bringing the alley access to Wyandotte. The cause for the downfall is because many developers didn’t change with the times. That downward spiral started in 2005.”
With the national collapse of the home-building market, Ann Arbor-based developer Steppingstone Properties ended its involvement with the project in 2008 due to poor sales of the units completed the year before and sold the remaining units to the city, Steppingstone officials said.
The neighborhood’s posted telephone number is disconnected, and the Website domain, www.labadiepark.com, was completely blank beyond a single line that reads, “Homepage: This Page is Now Parked.” Two weeks ago that had changed to a “URL for sale” page.
However, discussions with MJC Labadie during the past 18 months have revitalized the complex’s future and led to an agreement that City Engineer Mark Kowalewski presented to the council in a July 22 letter.
He said the agreement with MJC Labadie requires that each unit built be purchased for $10,000, which includes both single-family houses and multifamily units. It also contains additional stipulations.
“Upon closing, (MJC Labadie is) to commence the construction of two single-family houses and one multifamily building containing six units within six months and shall be substantially completed within 12 months,” Kowalewski said in his letter to the council.
The two single-family houses are to be 1,800 square feet and 1,500 square feet. The lone multifamily building is to contain six units: two first-floor stacked ranch units at 1,335 square feet each, two second-floor stacked ranch units at 1,427 square feet each and two townhouse-style units at 1,827 square feet each. Each unit will have a living room, green space and garage, but no basement.
“What we did is just consolidate all those features into one so there’s more green space and it’s more like a neighborhood,” LoDuca said. “(The park will have) 61 units, plus the 12 that are already present. So, 73. They had proposed around 96. We redesigned their family-size unit to be bigger.”
LoDuca said the multifamily units are up from 1,335 to 1,850 sq. feet, while the single-family units are up from 1,350 to 1,800 sq. feet. Each will have three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and an attached two-car garage that opens into the alley.
“We give people a knowing sense of security since they don’t have to walk outside,” LoDuca said.
Costs will range from $109,900 to $119,900 for a single-family unit and $149,900 to $169,000 for a multifamily unit.
“Why develop a raw piece of land when you have these neighborhoods?” LoDuca said, noting that residents live within walking distance to several stores and a short drive from downtown. “We plan to relandscape the park and add two entertainment stations (including a barbecue).”
Rather than focusing on senior-oriented condos, LoDuca said MJC Labadie is targeting a broader demographic: anyone with a job.
MJC Labadie also will be responsible for constructing a new building once 50 percent of either the single-family houses or multifamily units are sold.
Kowalewski said MJC Labadie considered an already-approved Michigan Business Tax Brownfield Credit of $1 million for 10 years, but there are limitations on the amount in tax credits the developer would be eligible for.
“The developer has the possibility of receiving only approximately $509,800 in tax credits provided they complete all units by March 24, 2015,” Kowalewski said.
The new owners also plan to become part of the city’s new geothermal project, which has led to previous sales agreements receiving a $2,000 discount on property purchases. LoDuca said the entire complex will have modern geothermal heat exchanges instead of gas furnaces.
“The developer further anticipates a lower sales price per unit,” Kowalewski said. Factoring in the reduced MBT credit, geothermal installation and lower sale prices, “this lowers the sales price to an average of $4,672.13 per unit.”
Councilmembers Sheri Fricke, James DeSana, Daniel Galeski and Leonard Sabuda voted unanimously July 26 to approve Kowalewski’s recommendation.
In the three weeks since, Kowalewski did not respond to several messages seeking additional comment for this story.
LoDuca said the developers hope to dig the shovel in and get to work by the end of September with a four-unit multifamily building at Second and Labadie, and single-family homes off St. Johns Street. He said the residences will be ready for living about five months from the start of work.
“We’ll finish the exteriors before winter,” LoDuca said. “We have to credit the (Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Brownfield Revitalization Act) who gave us the insight to consider neighborhood redevelopment in Wyandotte.”
For more information on MJC Cos. and its communities, go to www.mjccompanies.com.