Boom Envelopes Dundee

As seen in The Blade

Homes, retail give sleepy village a loud wake-up call Dundee, Mich. – Sure, Cabela’s is here and Chrysler is coming, but that’s not the main reason that Andrew Milia is about to construct a subdivision in this quaint village. “It’s the strategic location that’s creating a desire to be part of the community,” said the Farmington Hills, Mich. – based president of Franklin Property Corp., pointing out that the village is located 20 minutes by expressway from Ann Arbor and Toledo. “What’s even more interesting is that you’re only 40 minutes from Livonia and Farmington Hills.

You can really attract a lot of people to the market because of the quality of life and the school system,” he said. Easy access to highways and a growing commercial base has housing developers discovering Dundee. Projects are aimed at upscale commuters as well as first time homebuyers. Some are expecting buyers who want to escape the higher housing costs in the Ann Arbor and suburban Detroit areas. A housing boom is anticipated. From 1990 to 2000, seven building permits were issued for houses, said Patrick Burtch, village administrator. So far this year, more than 50 permits have been issued and another 40 are expected. Plus, 120 to 200 housing starts are expected in each of the next few years. The village has about 3,500 residents, including more than 300 children under the age of 5, based on 2000 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Both the total and the under the age 5 categories grew substantially from a decade ago. Not to be outshone is the commercial growth in the village.

Dundee has been aggressively seeking commercial projects for two decades, Mr. Burtch said, averaging a new plant every three years. That has jumped by a third since the arrival three years ago of Cabela’s, a 165,000-square-foot hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear store off of M-50 next to U.S. 23, which splits the village. An even faster pace of commercial development is expected because of the February announcement of a $400 million automotive engine plant on Ann Arbor Road on the east side of U.S. 23, a joint project by Chrysler, Mitsubishi Motor Corp., and Hyundai Motor Co. It is to be operating by 2005. Still, the housing plans are the most eye-opening in the western Monroe County town that is 17 miles north of Ohio.

If all current plans are developed, the village of 2,600 homes will add 3,200 housing units in 15 to 20 years, Mr. Burtch said. Some of it will be within the existing village boundaries; some will come through annexation of adjacent township land. “What’s really unusual is that everyone coming in has a different product,” he said. “Nobody’s competing with each other and all the homes are in different ranges. Franklin Property will present a site plan to village official’s tomorrow night for Arbor Chase, a subdivision with houses and condominiums which is just north of the new $30-million high school. The $150 million project eventually is to have 690 homes, priced from $150,000 to $250,000 and more than 50-acres of open space and walking trails. Construction is to start early next year, Mr. Milia said. “What you find in a lot of communities is that they create artificial downtowns with residential developments going up in cornfields,” he explained. “We like the village of Dundee because it already has a quaint downtown and our development . . . will help support the shops and services downtown.”

700 New Homes Planned

As seen in The Independent

Franklin Property Corporation is planning to build a new sub-division in Dundee, just north of the new high school building. The plan is for 700 new houses. Village President Jim Roe said that the houses will not be built all at once, but only on demand as they sell.

“Yes, the plan is for 700 houses, but in what time span? Maybe seven to 10 years,” said Mr. Roe. “They’re not going to build 50 or 100 homes and have them sit there. “They only build homes they can fill,” said Mr. Roe. “I imagine that in years to come it probably will fill up.”

Village Council member Ed Craft serves on the Planning Commission. He said that the homes would all be single-family, stick-built houses.

“Some of the zoning is RA-1 and some is RA-3 with smaller lots,” said Mr. Craft. ” They brought us two different layouts, but they were conceptual plans only, with no site plan submitted. It’s not chiseled in stone.”

He added that the developer had planned to put in this subdivision before the engine plant was announced. “The subdivision fronts Dundee-Azalia Road,” said Mr. Craft. “Its northern boundary is Ty Circle Drive.”

The new subdivision will be accessed from Dundee-Azalia Road. Mr. Craft said the Planning Commission strongly suggested the developers also have access off the Ty Circle Drive extension, to ease traffic congestion and provide another outlet. Also under consideration is the extension of Ypsilanti Street, but there may be some complications involved in that with Detroit Edison power lines and poles, so it may not happen.

“No start date has been mentioned that I know of. None of this has come before the Village Council yet,” said Mr. Roe. “It is still at the Planning Commission stage.”

Originally, Franklin Property Corp. had options on 60 more acres to the north, but gave up the options to the new engine plant, which is expected to break ground sometime in late March or early April.