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.”