By Angelo Parlove
The City of Saline has picked at least two developments, with a possible third business in the works, for the city-owned property in the Sauk Trail Business Park located at Michigan Avenue and South Industrial Drive.
With a 5-2 vote at its regular meeting on Sept. 19, the city council approved the real estate purchase and development agreement for about six and a half acres on Lot 18 and 19 in the park with a development group led by Saline residents James Junga, Mark Kuykendall and Jim Haeussler. The development group will build a boutique-style Best Western Plus hotel and expanded Ace Hardware store at the site.
“This land has set vacant for many, many years and has not generated any revenue for the city,” Council Member David Rhoads said. “This proposal will also generate structures that become taxable and generate revenue to the city, and operation of those businesses will create jobs, and we can always use more jobs within the community.”
Further, at a work session before the regular meeting on Sept. 19, Saline residents Corey and Michelle Weaver pitched the council on their proposal to purchase over four acres of city-owned property in the Sauk Trail Business Park to construct a Zippy Auto Wash.
“We’re looking forward to serving the Saline community with the highest quality auto wash services,” said Corey Weaver, who currently co-owns two Zippy Auto Wash locations in Washtenaw County with his wife Michelle. “We believe the Sauk Trail Business Park is an ideal location to provide those services.”
For the hotel and hardware store projects, the city will sell the property to the development group for $430,000. However, most controversially, the city will also pick up the costs to relocate the power lines on the property, which is expected to cost at least $225,000, as well as cover the expenses for survey, realtor and closing fees.
In the end, the city will likely net somewhere between $140,000-150,000 for the sale of the land it was marketing for $125,000 per acre. “This agreement is not perfect by any means,” Council Member Janet Dillon said. “I’m sure we would all like to tweak it a little bit more here and there, but in the end what it is doing is bringing a hotel and a business to our area that we need.”
In contrast, the Weavers have offered the city its full asking price, totaling $550,000 for the four-plus acres of property adjacent to the proposed Best Western Plus and Ace Hardware site. Council Member Dean Girbach, who voted against the purchase and development agreement for the hotel and hardware store, took issue with the sale price and costs assumed by the city in that deal.
“The fact that we’re not benefiting our taxpayers at a price or a more reasonable price is a detriment by this council to our taxpayers,” he said.
However, Girbach was supportive of the Zippy Auto Wash offer. “From my perspective, I think this is a very attractive offer,” he said after the Weavers presented their business plan to council at the work meeting. “It’s more realistic than what we received with other offers.”
The Weavers currently own two Zippy Auto Wash locations, first opening on Ellsworth Road in Pittsfield Township in 2007, which was followed by their second location on Zeeb Road in Scio Township in 2012. The Weavers now have turned their attention to the Sauk Trail Business Park for another site.
“Sauk Trail provides excellent exposure on US-12, excellent access to US-12, its in a established retail corridor, and we believe we’ll find many customers along that corridor and be able to offer the highest quality services to those customers,” Corey Weaver said.
City council is expected to again address the Zippy Auto Wash proposal as a discussion item at its next regular meeting on Oct. 3.
“This is a very attractive proposal by a great business, but the added leverage we have from being owners of these parcels is we get to be really thoughtful about what we want in that particular space, whether its compatible with a number of goals and objectives we have as a community,” Saline Mayor Brian Marl said.