Michigan attorney turns trash dump into business center
GREEN OAK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Once a trash-covered former manufacturing site, a property near South Lyon has a new life as a growing cluster of businesses.
“Seven years ago, that property was the biggest dump in Green Oak Township,” said Dennis Dubuc, an attorney who redeveloped the property into Blue Heron Place.
Dubuc purchased the property, in 2007, and repurposed four Quonset huts — rounded corrugated steel WWII-era structures — and built a more traditional-looking two-tenant building. He also constructed Blue Heron Pond, an adult foster care home, on another plot of land he owns behind Blue Heron Place.
Current occupants of Blue Heron Place include Trufit Fitness, Polish Pottery, Deluxe Heated Car and Motorcycle Storage, Tilt Tumble and Cheer and drywall company Quality Services.
“When I bought it, it was a mess. It was the biggest eyesore.” Dubuc told the Livingston Daily Press & Argus . “It took 30 dumpsters and three months to haul trash away.”
Back in the 1950s, the property was used by a dog food manufacturer and a company that manufactured tires for earth-moving vehicles. It was bought by hot tub and pool company Viscount Pools in 1976.
Owner and head trainer of Trufit Fitness Steve Avey grew up in the area and remembers when the Quonset huts were in bad condition.
“It was really beat up, overgrown and just decaying, rusting away,” Avey said. “Now a lot of people comment on the coolness of the place. We call it ‘the hangar’ because it reminds everyone of an airplane hangar. It’s not your conventional building.”
Before Avey moved his Trufit Fitness there — he first moved his business four years ago into a smaller Quonset hut before expanding into a larger one — Dubuc rented it for car storage. Much of the property was rented out for storage, and a mechanic once occupied one of the buildings.
“Slowly but surely over time, it’s built up with businesses,” Avey said.
Jim Richardson and his wife, Diane Richardson, moved their pottery store from downtown South Lyon earlier this year. Traffic on Rushton Road gives the shop “more exposure,” he said.
“A lot of people talk about how when (Dubuc) bought the property, people were dumping trash here,” said Richardson, who operates his shop out of the traditional building. “It’s attractive now.”
A newly constructed space added to the building Polish Pottery occupies features an open area with a large mural depicting the Canadian Rockies, three offices and a break room.
“Recently, I put up the new 1,300-square-feet building that is commercial for lease, and could be a hair salon, a doctor’s office, an insurance company, whatever,” Dubuc said. “I’ll be ready to rent by Monday.”
Looking to the future, Dubuc said he is interested in purchasing 3.3 acres of township-owned land to the south and using it as a park for the adult foster care facility, but he’ll have to wait until the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality signs off on pollution monitoring and remediation the township is undertaking. Contaminants of concern included cyanide, arsenic, lead, chromium, cadmium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nickel, vanadium, selenium, silver and zinc and other potential contaminants, according to MDEQ officials.
“I sent the township a plan for a park, and I’m waiting for them to sell the land” to put in a bid, Dubuc said.
Gamewood Drive homeowner Robert Cavill filed complaints with the MDEQ after his property across the pond flooded last fall. His complaints prompted state environmental officials to cite Dubuc for alterations he made to state-regulated wetlands, including the rerouting of the stream away from a garage at the adult foster care and the removal of vegetation from around the pond.
Dubuc remedied the matter by applying for an after-the-fact wetlands permit, MDEQ enforcement official Justin Smith confirmed.
Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com