Luxury Home to Replace Greens

As seen in The Detroit News

Friday, September 17, 1999 INDPENDENCE TOWNSHIP – While residential golf developments are one of the hottest sectors in Michigan’s booming construction market, Southfield developer Andrew Milia is bucking the trend. Milia, president of Franklin Property Corp., which has developed dozens of luxury homes in Ann Arbor, Farmington Hills and Franklin, purchased the Clarkston Golf Course and is converting the facility into an upscale housing development. “We looked at maintaining the course, but to offer estate-sized lots, which is the primary market in north Oakland County, we had to take out the course,” Milia said. “But we’ll preserve the 100-year old oak trees and offer one-acre lots.” Milia plans to break ground on the 47-acre site, three miles from Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, next spring. He will offer 30 two story country homes that range in size from 3,300-5,000 square feet and are priced from $450,000 to $700,000.

“For the exterior, we’ll use a mixture of brick and stone, and offer a three-car garage,” Milia said. “There will be a country kitchen where you have a hearth room with a fireplace, four bedrooms, great room, library and open floor plan. Milia noted the country feel of the location. “That area of Clarkston still permits horses on large lots, so it’s almost like being up north or in England,” he said. “Our primary market will be families from DaimlerChrysler AG (in Auburn Hills) and the large auto suppliers and related companies.” The site has been designed so that no home backs up to another. Common features include rolling hills, pond, gazebo, pedestrian path and entry marker to the Oakmont subdivision.

The project, scheduled to be completed in three years, is surprising, given that most developers want to buy or build a golf course and border the fairways with luxury homes or condominiums. “In this particular instance, the course was not making any money, and it didn’t seem to be working,” said Steve Board, chairman of the Independence Township Planning Commission and director of project development for Barton-Marlow, a large construction firm in Southfield. “Andy has received a preliminary zoning change from recreational to single-family residential. “There is one caveat, though. The developer and the township must sign a development agreement, which would then allow the zoning change to go through.

The site plans are in and the project is moving forward.” North Oakland County is one of the hottest areas for residential development because of its available land, strong economy, low taxes and expanding job market. For the first seven months of the year, more than 1,000 residential permits were issued in north Oakland, according to Housing Consultants Inc. in Clarkston. Communities with the strongest residential growth include Rochester, Rochester Hills, Orion Township, Commerce Township and Oxford Township. “There is just tremendous job growth along the Interstate 75 corridor, and the home builders follow the jobs,” said Gilbert “Buzz” Silverman Cos. in Farmington Hills, which is building several subdivisions in north Oakland County. In addition to Oakmont, Milia is developing several other projects, including:

* North Lake Orchards: In Dexter Township near Ann Arbor, 21 homes are being built on a 35-acre apple orchard. Prices start at $280,000.

* Franklin Forest: A development of 21 luxury homes ranging in price from $600,000 to $1.2 million in Franklin.
The project is located along 13 Mile west of Telegraph.

* Whittaker Farms: A collection of 100 homes in Ypsilanti with prices ranging from $180,000 to $210,000.