Historical home may be moved to make way for medical complex

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – A medical office building could be built soon at the southwest corner of Biddle and Ford avenues.

City Engineer Mark Kowalewski told the City Council on Monday that officials now have a written agreement to sell select property in the block southwest of the two streets to MJC Templin LLC. The lots are identified as 2040 to 2070 Biddle, 86 to 116 Spruce, and 117 to 149 Ford Avenue.

The company will develop the property into a two-story, 22,000-square-foot building with accessible parking on the Ford Avenue property. It will develop a second medical office building if additional property is made available through an “option parcel” from the city that calls for an addition 44,000 square feet on the block.

MJC Templin then would put down a $40,000 option deposit that would be forfeited if the city acquires the additional land and the developer fails to close on the option parcel.

That parcel includes the Victorian home at 150 Spruce that resident Tim Peloquin last summer had tried to secure to restore. He wanted to buy the adjacent vacant lot as well.

However, he believes the city created frustrating and cost-prohibitive restoration requirements that led him to believe officials had other plans for the house and land and never intended to sell it.

At the time Mayor Joseph Peterson and council members would not discuss any contracts under consideration.

Last fall Peloquin said the city’s demands made no sense when applied to a foreclosed home that had been moved and did not qualify for any national historic registry.

Peloquin was frustrated at that time that the city would not sell him the lots or explain their reasoning.

“I wish they would sell the house lot 13 and lot 14, like I tried for in the beginning, like a normal sale,” he said last summer.

Peloquin also was frustrated by the unnecessary renovation standards placed upon the Victorian.

“New windows, new vinyl – why take it off?” he said. “That’s crazy, if they could sell it to us as a fixer-upper.”

City officials now hope to move the Victorian house using Tax Increment Finance Authority funds, and with help and cooperation from the Wyandotte Community Alliance and input from the Historical Commission. A site has not been identified.

Officials applied Jan. 22 to rezone the land targeted for the medical office building.

The proposed sale agreement obligates the city to clean up the southeast corner of the property to an applicable standard for commercial use, provided the city receives a petroleum grant through the Downriver Area Brownfield Consortium to pay the entire cost.

If the city does not obtain such a grant, the purchaser will agree to a restrictive covenant for the 40-foot by 50-foot portion of the southeast corner of the property. Templin Auto Sales occupied the land in the past.

Drawings accompanying the purchase agreement were drawn Dec. 1, six weeks prior to an attempt by Peloquin at a Jan. 11 council meeting to obtain additional information about the city’s plans for the block.

“I think that people would rather see a line of Victorians going down Biddle than a bunch of medical buildings,” Peloquin said at that meeting.

Councilman Lawrence Stec then asked Peloquin if he would be interested in moving the Victorian at 150 Spruce to a site on Biddle near the hospital where another house owned by the city is being torn down.

“Here we’ve got two Victorian houses that they’re thinking of demolishing right off the bat in Wyandotte,” Peloquin said, “I think it’s a crime myself – it shouldn’t happen.

He believes the large houses along Biddle near Ford Avenue, including the the Ford MacNichol Home and the Bacon Memorial District Library, should be preserved as a reminder of history.

“It takes you back,” Peloquin said. “I don’t think these buildings should be demolished. I think you should line them up and give something special to these people to fix them up and not just because I’m interested in it, but because there are a lot of other people out there who are interested in it also.”

He also said he still is interested in the Victorian at 150 Spruce.

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