The City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department today submitted a request to City Council to authorize the purchase of the former Rogell Golf Course, a 120-acre property located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Lahser and Seven Mile roads.
City leaders say the $1.9-million acquisition would enable it to transform the property from its current blighted condition into a naturalized public park, spur development and neighborhood vitality, and improve stormwater management in a part of the city that frequently experiences flooding.
The city plans to create public spaces and landscapes on a large scale balanced with private development. It also would help address persistent stormwater management challenges near the Rouge River in an environmentally appropriate way.
If approved, the city’s acquisition would be an early action step to its Northwest Grand River planning process, which is nearing completion.
A partnership of several city departments would be responsible for implementing the plans for Rogell, which currently include open space with nature trails connecting to the planned Rouge River Greenway to be developed and maintained by the General Services Department, future development primarily along the Seven Mile frontage to be led by the Housing and Revitalization Department (HRD), and a green stormwater infrastructure project to be implemented by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
DWSD will construct the planned improvements in Rogell and in the surrounding neighborhoods after the acquisition.
“The volume of stormwater we will manage on the Rogell site is like no other location in the city,” says Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. “This is critical in meeting a permit requirement to reduce stormwater flows into our wet weather facilities.
“More importantly, residents and businesses in northwest Detroit have experienced basement backups and street flooding that can be lessened immensely by installing green stormwater infrastructure which Detroiters will see as beautifully landscaped bioretention gardens.”
The acquisition and implementation of different programming elements will be managed by HRD. Under the plan, the department will be responsible for exploring future mixed-use development opportunities on the site. The city says any development will take several years to materialize, and any projects initiated by HRD will include a public request for proposals.
The property was previously 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 Seven Mile Road from the golf course.
The church continued to operate the golf course until 2013, but was forced to close the facility when it was no longer profitable. A proposed sale to a cemetery company in 2014 fell through when the Board of Zoning Appeals denied the necessary zoning change.
The Planning and Development Department is leading the creation of a conceptual master plan for the property in partnership with Housing and GSD will complete the park improvements when the design is complete. Fundraising for more detailed design and construction of the park will soon be underway as part of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund II, as presented in the Mayor’s March 6 State of the City address.
The golf course first opened for play in 1912 as the Phoenix Country Club, and was associated with a local Jewish social club in what was then Redford Township. It was renamed Redford Country Club in 1920 and annexed into Detroit in 1926.
In 1946, the city acquired the property for use as a public golf course. In 1979, the city council voted to rename it the William G. Rogell Golf Course in recognition of a then-sitting council member and former player for the Detroit Tigers.
The city intends to document and celebrate the history of the course in the site design, including exploring options for adaptive reuse of the clubhouse building.