By Jim Newell
Orion Township has agreed to sell the last piece of the Brown Road puzzle, a lot at 313 Brown Road that the township acquired as part of the Brown Road redevelopment project.
The township board voted unanimously to sell the property to Pulte Homes for development. An early conceptual design proposes building townhouse style homes on the lot.
“We have an offer to purchase 313 Brown Rd., which is a parcel that the township purchased in order to widen Brown Road, which was the first step in the redevelopment of Brown Road,” Supervisor Chris Barnett said. “Pulte Homes has made an offer to purchase 313 Brown Road for $400,000.”
The property is on the north side of Brown Road, the former Pontiac Crushed Cement site, across from Staples, and east of Baldwin Road.
The board previously voted at its last meeting to give Barnett and attorney Dan Kelly authority to negotiate the sale.
“We have a new offer for the purchase of the property at $435,000. Additionally, Pulte has agreed to construct a pocket park for the township at the intersection of Baldwin Road and Jordan Drive,” Barnett said.
The pocket park, which will be on property the township receives from the Road Commission for Oakland County once phase 1 of the Baldwin Road reconstruction project is finished, would be a pedestrian park, with no available parking “at this point,” Barnett said.
“One of the things that we had asked (Pulte) is if they could add value to their offer,” Barnett said. “Generally speaking, they estimate the value of the pocket park to be $65,000. I will tell you, in my opinion, it’s probably more than that if we went out for a bid and tried to do it ourselves.”
With the addition of the pocket park, the total value of the offer to the township is about $500,000. Barnett added that the township is looking into grants to help add features at the pocket park.
“This is an excellent development. This is what we wanted to do, to get rid of those other mining operations back there,” Trustee Mike Flood said. “Eventually, hopefully, Brown Road is going to be filled out exactly how this (Corridor Improvement Authority) and township board dreamed it would be.”
The township paid $775,000 for the 313 Brown Road property.
“I don’t agree that we are selling it for less than we paid for it. We bought the person’s business as well, and the easements required (to widen Brown Road),” Barnett said. “The appraised value of the property when we purchased it was $400,000 and we paid more than that for the gentleman’s business as well, to get the easement that we needed to widen the road and not have to go through a year court process.”
This is the last piece of property that the township owns on Brown Road.
“This is the property that would have held up Brown Road being widened and Menards being built there,” Flood said. “This was the last piece of the puzzle that we had to get locked in or we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
The township and the Corridor Improvement Authority spent nearly $5 million to widen and reconstruct Brown Road to attract new development – including Menards, which opened last month – to the area. The reconstruction project was completed last fall and has already garnered interest from Hyatt House for a hotel, Pulte and Aldi’s grocery store.