By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The City Council approved a mixed retail and residential proposal March 20 for the former trailer park site in the 17700 block of Dix from Musa Shohatee of National Construction.
The proposal would call for the teardown of the now empty boarding house, known locally as “the white house,” which some city officials are glad to see removed.
Shohatee’s plan would include 11 houses on the east side of the property, facing Clarann, and a retail development with shops facing Dix. The property is across the street from the Oakwood Gym, 17767 Dix.
The builder, who does both rehab and new construction, said there is an increased demand for houses with more livable space in Melvindale, larger than its traditional bungalow housing stock. The proposed house design is 1,800 square feet.
“It’s going to give that street a new look,” Shohatee said. “We don’t want it to be huge, but a nice, small plaza, with plenty of parking. Maybe a restaurant, bakery and barbershop.”
Shohatee said he decided not to put houses on Dix, as originally proposed, because Dix is a relatively busy street, from which it is difficult to back in or out from a driveway.
Building official Brad Burns said he has discussed the concept of mixed use with Shohatee, and he thinks it is a good idea.
“This site will support that,” Burns said. “There is a lot of demand in the city right now for larger homes. The city doesn’t have a lot of two-story houses, with three, four bedrooms, with two baths, to offer. They will probably sell fast.”
Shohatee said he would like to start as early as April, and put the commercial development up before the houses.
Densmore, who was the lone vote against the proposal, said he didn’t like the retail in the front with the houses behind them.
Mayor Stacy Bazman said the mixed used development was a better financial investment for Shohatee.
City Councilman Carl Louvet said cutting the weeds on the property has been a burden on city workers for many years now, and he would like to see them relieved of that responsibility for the upcoming growing season.
City Attorney Lawrence Coogan said he would like to see a timetable established for the project, and for the new owner to be responsible for the property upkeep going forward.
Burns asked Shohatee if he would be willing to quickly demolish the abandoned boarding house, which he called an eyesore.
Shohatee said as soon as he has signed the paperwork and pulled the permits, he will have the vacant structure torn down.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)