Dearborn Towers Sale Leaves Residents Wondering About Future

Buyer Alchemy Management, LLC, said they will likely turn the retirement community on Island Estates from rentals into a condominium community.

Helen Miller is by all accounts the longest serving resident at Dearborn Towers.

She has enjoyed the 24 years she has lived there, doing water aerobics in the morning with friends she has made through the years at the retirement community on Island Estates.

However, the building, owned by Dearborn, Mich. was sold for more than $6.251 million Tuesday, leaving questions as to what the future holds for residents at the 88-unit complex.

A 10 percent nonrefundable deposit has already been given to the city, and the deal with Alchemy Management is expected to close within a month.

It's hard to tell what will happen to Dearborn Towers at that point–other than a likely name change. Alchemy Management told the city that it intends to turn the property into a condominium community.

For Miller, 85, who lost her husband years ago and has no other family, if the building is converted from rentals she would have no where to go and does not know where to start to look.

“This is my home.”


The Go Blue bumperstickers, Michigan license plates and shear number of Detroit iron in the parking lot could give away, if not the name, that Dearborn Towers is home away from the Wolverine State.

The city bought it years ago as a haven for retired Dearborn residents. Age and being from Dearborn are requisites for living there.

The faded blue paint on the aging eight-story building came from an abundance of swimming pool paint in Dearborn, a resident there said.

The retirement property, located on Island Estates, was , after Dearborn voters approved its sale in 2007. However,  in the property put a roadblock in the sale earlier this year.

“We fully disclosed everything to the buyer, but (the asbestos) was so minimal that it was a non-factor,” Dearborn Councilman Robert Abraham told Patch on Wednesday.

In late February, Dearborn hired a broker to represent the property for 30 days. The company, Franklin Street Real Estate, presented bids from IMG, Senior Living LLC and Alchemy Management LLC. All were significantly above the average of three appraisals, which put the property at a worth of $5.975 million.

Michael Miekstyn, a snowbird, who has lived in his unit on the top floor for more than 10 years is worried about the older residents who live at the complex year- round. But also found the sale curious.

“I’m amazed that it sold,” Miekstyn said. “Who would be so dumb to pay over market value?”


Current renters–most of them Dearborn residents–are currently operating on a month-by-month lease. Abraham said the city has been "very transparent" with them about the possibility that they may be required to leave.

Joe Terry, a snowbird who has lived at Dearborn Towers 12 years, said at one time there was a waiting list to get in to a place at the apartment building. Not since the questions started circling about the building’s sale.

“No one wants to spend $1,000 in furniture and then be out in 30 days,” Terry said.


Talk of the sale filled the conversation of the nearly 60 residents and former residents during a chicken dinner Thursday afternoon by the pool.

Some of the rumors swirling around the patio include whether the new owner will keep the tenants during renovations or if they all will have to look for a new place to live in the next two months.

Rita Ellis, who has lived at Dearborn Towers 10 years, loves the sense of community at the building.

“Everyone gets around and helps one another out,” Ellis said. “We have mixed emotions with the sale.” 

Ellis, who pays about $900 a month for her unit on the sixth floor for the six months out of the year she is in Florida, also wonders about the change from rentals to possible condominiums.

“At our stage in life no one wants to buy,” Ellis said.

Darth Xander March 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Thanks for this story. Never knew about this unique place. Hope the transition is as smooth as possible for the residents.
Christine Petellat April 01, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Sorry about the 90 day situation but these retired individuals that can afford to live six months In two states and not pay taxes here locally deserve to be evicted. Their home city is upside down financially and they pinch pennies while here so. Goodbye to you and hello to new money!!!
Sherl Hackett July 29, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Maybe we don't pay property tax in Florida but we do support our local establishments and pay rent all year even though we may only be here six months. There are plenty of tenants that live here full time and have for 20+ years. Our city at home is upside down because they bought propertied like Montgomery Wards and lost their a----! The towers has been self supporting until the city scared people into moving and doing nothing to get new people in. There are plenty of new retirees who would have been happy to be a part of the Tower Family. People who know nothing about the situation should keep their opinions to their self.


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