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Controversial Michigan barn becomes single-family home

October 7, 2018

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) — A controversial wedding barn shut down by court order in 2015 is getting new life as a single-family home.

Cottonwood Barn in Webster Township northeast of Dexter stopped operating as a wedding venue at the end of 2015 after Washtenaw County Judge Carol Kuhnke ruled that the wedding barn violated Webster Township’s zoning ordinance.

After purchasing the property for $69,000 and then spending $700,000 to remodel the barn as a wedding venue, previous owners Dan and Laura Waitz sold the property for $650,000 in November 2017, according to tax records.

The new owners — a family that moved to Ann Arbor from North Carolina about a year ago — are now turning the barn into their home.

“Their dream was to have a barn house. They came across this property and immediately jumped on it,” said Jef Forward, president and creative director of Forward Design Build Remodel, a build firm in Ann Arbor that is doing the Cottonwood Barn renovation.

The 44-foot-tall, 8,000-square-foot barn will have six bedrooms and four bathrooms occupying two floors and a loft space.

The ground level will house four bedrooms for the family’s five children, a family room and laundry room. Walk-in showers will be added to the commercial-style men’s and women’s bathrooms left from the barn’s days as a wedding venue.

Up the stairs on the second floor, a library and pantry will fill the space on the east side of the barn with its sloped ceiling.

The great room, with a 32-foot-ceiling and massive chandelier hanging from the rafter, will house a kitchen, dining and main living space with an open floor plan. The master suite with a sauna and a guest suite will stand on the west side of the barn, beneath the staircase to an open loft with a sloped ceiling that will offer an additional seating area.

It was important to the owners to leave the barn’s rafters, wooden beams and walls exposed, Forward told MLive , so insulation is being added to the exterior of the barn.

Workers also added more windows, and they had to adjust the drain field to accommodate additional bathrooms.

“One of the drivers for the clients was they really wanted to keep the integrity of the barn and the features that were there,” said Ann-Marie Clark, one of the project designers working on Cottonwood Barn. “But then it’s finding the balance of how is that going to fit in a home style.”

The public will have the chance to tour Cottonwood Barn and learn more about the project from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 4. Free tours will take place every hour on the hour, and advance registration is requested. Forward Design also has a summary of the renovation process and behind-the-scenes photos on its website.

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com

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