The Commerce Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has a few interested buyers for property in the DDA district, according to township Planner Kathleen Jackson.
Jackson, who is also the director of the Commerce DDA, said she is hoping to bring in a “mix of uses” to the DDA district.
The DDA is entertaining a couple offers, although Jackson said the potential purchasers in question have asked for confidentiality.
The DDA district includes property from two golf courses — the Links at Pinewood and El Dorado — the DDA purchased several years ago. Both former courses are located west of Haggerty Road between Pontiac Trail and Richardson Road.
Of the 350 acres of DDA-owned land in the district, only about 220 acres are available for development due to the presence of wetlands and paths.
The DDA previously issued bonds to enable it to acquire and improve a number of developable parcels of land in the DDA district, along with constructing the Martin Parkway project — a four-lane boulevard extending Martin Road south from PGA Drive to meet M-5 at Pontiac Trail; building five lanes from PGA Drive north to a roundabout at Oakley Park Road; and building a large roundabout where M-5 meets Pontiac Trail and Martin Parkway.
The road project was initiated by the DDA to alleviate area road congestion and to help the DDA market and develop hundreds of acres of property between M-5 at Pontiac Trail and Martin Parkway and Oakley Park roads. At the same time, the sale and development of the DDA land is how the bond debt — approximately $80 million — on the road project is expected to be paid off.
However, with the current economic climate and deterioration in the real estate market, the ability to sell the DDA property has been hindered and, as such, has left the DDA unable to begin paying off its bond debt as planned.
Because the bonds were additionally backed by the limited tax general obligation and the full faith and credit of the township, the township has had to advance money from its general fund to cover the initial DDA bond payments.
According to Supervisor Tom Zoner, so far the DDA has owed $4.5 million in bond repayments, but it only had $2.5 million. This left the DDA short $2 million. It then fell on the township to make up the difference, with the understanding that the DDA would pay back the township when it could.