Source: Sherman Publications

53 condos proposed in township

by CJ Carnacchio

May 08, 2013

It’s been a while since Oxford Township experienced any sort of large-scale residential development.

But the Bloomfield Hills-based Robertson Brothers is hoping to change that by gaining approval to construct 53 detached condominiums in The Hills of Oxford, a 26.81-acre development located at M-24 and Indian Lake Rd.

The proposal is set for a public hearing and discussion at the 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9 township planning commission meeting. Meetings take place on the second floor of the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (28 N. Washington St.).

“Oxford has been very receptive,” said James V. Clarke, president of Robertson Brothers. “We’re delighted to be there and we have real good feelings about the project. We’re excited to get started.”

Robertson Brothers, which is in the final stages of purchasing the Hills of Oxford property, is proposing to build 46 ranch units that are each 1,636 square feet in size and seven one-and-a-half-story units that are 1,944 square feet each.

“People are selling houses again,” Clarke said. “We’re having great success in Independence Township, where we had 38 of these (types of units) and they were all sold.

“We were able to raise prices and continue to sell two a month, which is a pretty good pace. Back in the day, you would have sold three or four a month. There just hasn’t been a lot built in the last four or five years.”

Combined with the existing 58 attached units that are spread out amongst five multifamily buildings, the Hills of Oxford would consist of 111 attached and detached condos should this proposed expansion be approved by the township.

That’s a far cry from what was originally approved for The Hills of Oxford back in December 2003.

Originally, the development was going to consist of 16 multifamily buildings, each containing either 10 or 14 units, for a total of 204 attached condos.

As the market for new homes, particularly new attached homes, tanked in southeast Michigan, the condo project was abandoned and no additional units were constructed.

All 58 of the existing attached units are occupied by either owners or renters.

“We’ve met with the existing homeowners association several times and the board has said they support it,” Clarke noted. “I’m in the process of trying to get a meeting arranged with all the residents, but their representative board and management company . . . they’re in support of it.”

Robertson Brothers is proposing to complete the condo development as a Planned Unit Development with a much lower density (more than 45 percent less than the original plan) and leave 10.74 acres of net open space.

Clarke explained these detached condos are designed to appeal to the “two growth markets in southeast Michigan.” Those markets consist of folks in the 55-65 and 65-85 age ranges.

“It’s designed for somebody who wants to sell their house, stay in the community and have a more manageable first-floor ranch condominium,” he said.

“I think there are residents of Oxford who may want to sell their house and stay close to the downtown area. And there may be some Orion residents who want a condominium option.”

“It’s really more like a house,” Clarke noted. “It’s detached so you don’t have common walls and you don’t have to worry about (issues with) neighbors.”

Clarke calls this type of unit a “quasi-condo.”

“This is a traditional condo in that you don’t have to maintain the outside and you don’t have to maintain your grounds, but it has all the benefits of being a single-family home in that you’re detached and you’ve got your privacy,” he explained.

These condos are particularly nice, in Clarke’s opinion, for those who like to do a lot of travelling or spend their winters in warmer climates.

“You can lock your house, load your car and leave whenever you want,” he said. “Your lawn’s cut, your snow’s shoveled and nobody knows whether you’re (at home or away).”

When asked the potential price range of these condos, Clarke said, “It’s probably going to be at or about $200,000.”

“We may get in at just under $200,000 – $180,000 to $190,000 (or go) up to the low $200,000s,” he said.

Clarke indicated these types of condos are “successful” because they allow people to sell their existing homes and either down-size or make a lateral move.

“You don’t want to take on a big mortgage at 60,” he noted.