Land Owners Saw ‘Writing On The Wall’

As seen in The Blade

Dundee was the ultimate winner of a $400-million vehicle engine plant by DaimlerChrysler AG and partners in part because the 242-acres identified for the site were held by a few owners with whom it had to negotiate. Village administrator Patrick Burtch said the majority of the land – on Ann Arbor Road, less than a mile north of M-50 – was farmland owned by Harold Heath of Milan, Mich., who had sold an option on it to a mobile-home operator.

Officials from the village, along with economic development officials from Monroe County and the state of Michigan, worked to buy that option and make the land available for Chrysler, Mr. Burtch said. “The Chrysler project was a godsend for us,” he said. “A mobile home park is not taxed the same . . . and it places a lot of burden on the schools without a return.” Once the land package was assembled, it was sold to an entity representing Chrysler and its partners. A real estate transfer in March had Dundee Holdings LLC selling to Century Properties X Ltd. a parcel at 5460 Ann Arbor for $4.5 million, which Mr. Burtch said is the full parcel.

“Dundee was booming and we were next in line,” said Mr. Heath, whose family has been farming in the area since 1870. Andrew Milia, president of Franklin Property Corp., in Farmington Hills, Mich., said he was assembling land for his company’s planned Arbor Chase development when he was approached by village officials to sell 65-acres that also were to be part of the engine plant site.