After conducting a lengthy "Master Property Planning" process, the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education voted June 29, 2016 to sell a parcel of land, known as "Wabeek", to Hunter Pasteur Homes Baron Estates, LLC for $3.5 million. In the same meeting, the Board of Education also voted to proceed toward demolition of the former Hickory Grove Elementary School and the former Pine Lake Elementary School.
With the vote from the Board of Education, the sale of the Wabeek site to Hunter Pasteur Homes Baron Estates, LLC will mark the first district property sale in recent history. Previously, the district sold Circle School in 1945 (northwest corner of Long Lake near Woodward) and Vaughan Elementary School, which was closed officially in 1979.
Hunter Pasteur Homes Baron Estates, LLC plan to develop a residential subdivision on the site. As it has been proposed, it will consist of 21 individual lots, a creek with moving water, sidewalks, stone bridge, and natural walking path. The homes are estimated to range in price from $800,000 to $2.5 million.
Dr. Rob Glass, Superintendent of Bloomfield Hills Schools stated that he was pleased with the vote to sell Wabeek. "It was time to sell," he said. "Through our Master Property Planning process, the community gave us the input and feedback we needed to feel comfortable in making this recommendation to the Board of Education. The new development is a win-win. Families who are hunting for a home in our district will have more options and opportunities, the district will hopefully see increased enrollment, and neighboring homeowners will hopefully see an increase in their own property values. We are very pleased with the sale," he said.
As for the demolition of Hickory Grove and Pine Lake, Dr. Glass was more hesitant. "I have mixed emotions about demolition and would imagine the community does, too," he said. "Though I am pleased we will no longer carry those costs on our books (heating, cooling, maintenance, etc.), there are a lot of memories in those buildings. And, even though we closed them long ago, the sites were a significant place for many people," he said. "But the economy and enrollment no longer support retaining physical structures not in use. In 1967, these now vacant buildings were bursting at the seams. Those days are gone and we need to be extremely efficient with taxpayer dollars."
As to what the future may hold for the Hickory Grove site and the Pine Lake site, Glass said, "We are weighing options and speaking with community members. We have an offer from Robertson Brothers Homes to purchase Hickory Grove and build detached condominiums. It's a wonderful proposal and would provide additional housing options for new and existing residents. However, we realize this is a big decision so we will continue with the process this summer and should have a recommendation by the August 18 Board meeting," he said.
The Robertson proposal is for a subdivision consisting of 34 detached condominiums, approximately 3-4 bedrooms each.
Wabeek Parcel Background Information: The Wabeek parcel is a single vacant piece of land off Long Lake Road. It is 18.03 acres and zoned for residential housing. The district has owned the property since 1971 and was valued at $203,600 at the time.
Hickory Grove Background Information: Hickory Grove was dedicated as an elementary school on February 24, 1957. After discontinuing its use as an elementary school in 2009, the Model Center program moved into the facility. In 2012, after the passage of a bond to construct a new high school, the district formulated plans to utilize the site as a 9th grade campus for Bloomfield Hills High School. Ninth grade students were housed in the building during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. The building has been empty again since June 2015.
Hickory Grove is located at 2800 Lahser Road in Bloomfield Township. The land itself is 27.41 acres and the building is 52,700 square feet. The site is comprised of two parcels and both are zoned for residential development.
Pine Lake Background Information: Pine Lake was originally opened in 1958. The district closed Pine Lake in 2009, but decided to retain the facility for potential future use. In 2013, Model Center, a Bloomfield Hills High School program, was moved into the facility along with recreation programs and Bloomfield Youth Assistance. In the fall of 2015, Model Center was moved into their new home on the new Bloomfield Hills High School campus and Bloomfield Youth Assistance was moved into a district facility across the street from the high school.
Pine Lake is located at 3333 W. Long Lake in West Bloomfield. The land itself is 26.69 acres and the building is 42,950 square feet. The site is comprised of four parcels and all are zoned for residential development.