The Heron Hills condominium project, located in the panhandle of Wolverine Lake, remains incomplete after the developer filed for bankruptcy. However, the property may be soon be viable again now that it has been acquired by the village of Wolverine Lake.
The property is situated across from Walled Lake Central High School, near Glengary Road. Phase I was in the middle of being constructed when the real estate market tanked.
There are three buildings with 30 proposed condominium units left over from Phase I, and a larger property that had been reserved for Phase II estimated at 9 acres that went through the Oakland County property tax foreclosurer and forfeiture process.
According to program criteria, the village had first right of refusal prior to the property being auctioned to the public. The first auction was held in September. The total price was $310,694, including back taxes, a special assessment for water and sewer services, and rolling interest charges from 2009 to 2011.
There were no takers during the first auction. Subsequently, a second auction was held in October, but again the property didn’t sell.
“It was never picked up,” said Village Council President John Magee. “I think it didn’t since it had a (special assessment) for sewer taps and lines put in, so there was a large remaining balance.”
If a tax-foreclosed property isn’t sold during a second county auction, then it reverts to the ownership of the host community.
The village will cover the tax delinquency and the special assessment at $220,660, which must be reimbursed to Oakland County.
“Other units of government assume their share, so the actual total was $310,000,” said village Treasurer Mike Kondek.
While the village didn’t budget for the acquisition this year, the money for the acquisition will be drawn from its fund balance.
“We knew a contingency was out there and that (the Heron Hills property) may not sell (at the auction), so fortunately we had a cushion in the fund balance in case it came to fruition,” Magee said. “In the long run, the village will be made whole because we can potentially develop the properties with the existing site plan.”
While the three condo sites in Phase I must remain as actual condominiums in a depressed market, the village has some leeway with the 9-acre Phase II parcel.
“There is a site plan in place, but certainly a new developer could come in and put forward a new site plan that’s flexible,” Magee said. “Single-family homes are on their way up in value, so this property could be modified to make that transition.”
The village officially assumed ownership of the property on Monday, Nov. 5.
“It looks like we’ll be in the real estate business,” Magee said. “There is no specific plan yet — we will wait for the new (Village) Council to come on board and then it will be made a high priority.”