by BETH ALTENA
Rob Scott of Pendulum Real Estate Group and new owner of the Cannon Township Planned Unit Development Town Square, is considering the options for the development of the property. Bank owned through foreclosure until purchased by Scott last month, the property was originally slated to be a mixed-use residential and business development. Shortly after Ric’s Food Center moved in in anticipation of a surrounding community of walking-distance customers, the original owner lost the property and since no construction has taken place.
“It’s not part of a bankrupt development,” Scott said of the property. He had originally purchased two other developments in the township which were also bank-owned, and had no construction in the past years. He had asked the township for concessions of additional lots and slight reduction in lot sizes on the two developments and in the past months worked out an arrangement for those concessions based on successful development of the Town Square property.
Scott said the Town Square offers “challenging infrastructure” which was originally built to accommodate town homes as well as a business portion abutting Belding Road on the south side of the property. Before the former owner went bankrupt, extensive infrastructure—roads, water and sewer—were put in place. Scott said this prior investment in the property could be a blessing or a curse.
“If the infrastructure works for the new development that would be good, if we have to move things, such as the roads, then that’s not so good,” Scott said. Although reluctant to speculate on how the property may ultimately be developed, he said he is investigating whether accommodations for seniors might be a good fit there for part of the property.
“There could be a drug store, maybe a hair styling place. It could be a place where you could live there and not leave if you don’t want to,” he said. He also envisioned perhaps having a doctor who would travel to the area, although all plans are completely speculative at this point.
That arrangement was part of the original vision of the property, where services and the local grocery store were all in walking distance. LJR Builders, the first developers of the land, expected the lots to be filled with residential town homes with all necessities close at hand. Ric’s Food Center was the first to set up in the development, but the bottom fell out of residential sales at about that time.
Scott said he is in the very preliminary stages of figuring out what use of the development will be successful, and housing for retirees is just one idea. He said regardless, the idea of a development of townhomes would probably not end up as the final result.
He said townhomes are typically two story structures with the living space split evenly between the top and lower level, as can be seen on the one building on the site which was to have served as the developer’s offices. Townhomes are definitely not suited for retirees or others who may have difficulty negotiating stairways. “You have to be able to go up and down stairs to live in a townhome,” Scott noted. He also said townhomes are not the norm in this area and are not particularly affordable, at least as envisioned as LJR had in spec drawings of the development. The artists renderings of the future homes featured many elevations and roof lines, expensive additions to residential properties.
His business partner Dave Schermer has connections to a successful development group that owns dozens of Wendy’s in West Michigan as well as other restaurants in the area. Using that resource to figure out how to build and market the property will be helpful, Scott believes. He also is working with Rockford Construction and other developers who are currently working on projects and developments.
“We will look at what they are doing to see what might be successful,” Scott remarked. Scott said the good news is that action is finally being taken on the property, which one Cannon Township resident described during a recent trustees meeting as “the garbage dump development” because of trash and disarray on the grounds.
“They have been tremendous to work with,” Scott said of the township elected officials and staff.
Township Supervisor Steve Grimm originally thought of using incentives in the other two developments to encourage a jump-start on the Town Square properties. “It’s great to see someone ready to get to work on that property,” Grimm said. He said bottom line the arrangement gave the township the chance to make relatively small adjustments to two bankrupt residential developments to stimulate action on the mixed use Town Square development.
“There were three bankrupt developments and this guy bought all three,” said Grimm. “It will be a tremendous benefit to the entire township.” He said he sees no reason why other townships and municipalities would also act to benefit their residents in a similar way, given the new economic realities most are struggling through now.
“We think there is tremendous potential,” said Scott of the development. He said people don’t realize the risk that goes into taking on something like a bankrupt development. He said he is in the process of working on a “fairly sophisticated review” of what might work on the property and expects it might include more traditional two-story homes that need a wider footprint than townhomes do. “I look forward to what works out going forward.”
Pendulum Real Estate Group will be holding a ceremony marking the new ownership and revitalization of previously bank-owned Town Square in Cannon Township. Pendulum worked closely with Cannon Township to make this purchase a reality. The township and Pendulum are continuing to work together to develop Town Square and revitalize Cannon Township. Pendulum also owns two other developments in Cannon Township that were previously bank owned.
There are a few challenges because of the existing structure but Pendulum is confident in their plan that will be presented before the Planning Commission in 6 months. They have spoken with major retailers, restaurant operators, and various builders about viable concepts. They are still seeking community and business input.
Pendulum Real Estate Group will be introducing themselves and asking for public input on a new concept for the area. The foreclosed sign with be taken down and a new sign will be unveiled on April 10th at 11am on the corner of Belding Road and Meyers Lake, in the Town Square Development.