The City of Saline is selling 3.6 acres at 207 S. Monroe St. to High Meadows Development LLC, a company which plans to build 24 condominiums.
Saline City Council voted 6-0 to sell the property Monday night after discussing the issue for about 30 minutes at a work session earlier in the evening. It was a major milestone in the city’s efforts to sell and develop the property.
Several members of council were all smiles when speaking to the issue.
“The property is owned by the city at the moment. It generates no tax revenue. It costs us money to maintain and mow,” Mayor Pro-Tem David Rhoads said. “I’m pleased to see a development that will allow another 24 families to live in the Saline community and to live in an area close to downtown, so they won’t have to rely on a vehicle to visit downtown businesses.”
Councillor Dean Girbach said he believed the project will be beneficial to the city.
“It adds to the city’s tax base. I think it’s a good investment for the future. We’ll have a return on this property for a good, long time,” he said. “It looks promising and hopefully it’s something the neighbors like. We’ve worked on this proposal for a long time and I think we’ve done our due diligence.”
The city bought most of the property in 2011 for $100,000, believing the property might be used to expand Oakwood Cemetery and/or the nearby park. In 2014, in an effort to raise cash and put private land on the tax rolls, the city began trying to sell many of its parcels.
The city originally asked for $275,000 for the property. Realtors from Charles Reinhart Company convinced city council to lower its asking price and demolish a derelict home to make the property more attractive. The city’s efforts ran into trouble when residents of Mark Hannah Court expressed opposition to developing the property and demanded to know why the city was selling the property after years of denying them a chance to buy land to expand their backyards. The city heard proposals from local developer Peters Building Co. and Damian Farrell’s High Meadows company and, after consultation with neighbors, went with Farrell.
Finally, the city settled on a price of $200,000, but agreed to pay about $66,000 to move power lines that run through the property.
Girbach said neighbors would still have a chance to address issues in front of the city’s planning commission.
Councillor Linda TerHaar said she was pleased to see the neighbors’ skepticism and opposition turn to support.
“I’ve been very impressed with the developer’s approach to the project,” TerHaar said. “Mr. Farrell was active in reaching out to neighbors and he allayed their fears.”
Mayor Brian Marl thanked Rhoads and Girbach for their work on the plan. Marl also credited the work of City Manager Todd Campbell, Attorney Scott Smith, real estate agents Darby Kolano and Rick Mangan.
Marl said residents should be happy with the city’s work on the project.
“Our approach relating to 207 Monroe Street is really indicative of how thoughtful we are as a city. We took our time and engaged neighbors and worked to find a legitimate compromise between competing interests,” Marl said.