March 13--A blighted former 120-acre golf course in northwest Detroit could become a public park and floodplain to capture stormwater, city officials announced Tuesday, saying it could spur further development in the area.

The city's Housing and Revitalization Department submitted a request to City Council seeking authorization to purchase the former Rogell golf course for $1.94 million. The site is at the southwest corner of Lahser and 7 Mile.

City officials said in a news release that the acquisition would allow the city to transform the property into a "naturalized public park" and also improve stormwater management in an area that has frequently experienced flooding near the Rouge River.

Transforming the shuttered golf course into a public space furthers Mayor Mike Duggan's goal of improving and expanding the city's park system to give city residents more recreational options. In April 2016, Duggan announced an investment of $11.7 million to improve 40 neighborhood parks across Detroit.

The presence of the Rouge River floodplain and Rogell's rolling topography make it difficult to redevelop the land for commercial use, but it makes the golf course an ideal location for public green space, according to Maurice Cox, director of Planning and Development. The city is also exploring options for the clubhouse building.

"This opportunity (to purchase Rogell) was identified in the course of our neighborhood planning efforts in the Northwest/Grand River area," Cox said. "We're excited to bring innovative landscapes to every corner of the city."

The golf course was owned by the city from 1946 until 2007, when it was sold for $2.1 million to the Greater Grace Temple of the Apostolic Faith, whose main campus is located across 7 Mile Road from the course.

According to the city, Greater Grace operated the golf course until 2013 but closed it when it was no longer profitable. The church tried to sell the property to a cemetery company in 2014 but the Board of Zoning Appeals denied the necessary zoning change.

If the council approves, the city plans to use a portion of $8.9 million in community block grants it received in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase the course. The money was for disaster recovery activities following the severe flooding that occurred in August 2014, when nearly 6,000 homes in northwest Detroit reported flooding and basement backups.

"The volume of stormwater we will manage on the Rogell site is like no other location in the city," Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said in a statement. He said the residents and businesses in northwest Detroit who have experienced flooding will find that it will be lessened immensely by installing green stormwater infrastructure that "Detroiters will see as beautifully landscaped bioretention gardens."

Several city departments would be responsible for the plan to transform Rogell, which includes creating an open space with nature trails that would connect to the planned Rouge River Greenway.

"This site combines all the elements that the federal grant funds were designed to address, specifically mixed-use development, open space and stormwater management," Arthur Jemison, director of Housing and Revitalization, said in a statement

Contact Katrease Stafford: or 313-223-4759.


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