Green Oak Township — Once a trash-covered former manufacturing site, a property near South Lyon has a new life as a growing cluster of businesses.
“Seven years ago, that property was the biggest dump in Green Oak Township,” said Dennis Dubuc, an attorney who redeveloped the property into Blue Heron Place.
Dubuc purchased the property, in 2007 and repurposed four Quonset huts — rounded corrugated steel World War II-era structures — and built a more traditional two-tenant building. He also constructed Blue Heron Pond, an adult foster care home, on another plot of land he owns behind Blue Heron Place.
Current occupants of Blue Heron Place include Trufit Fitness, Polish Pottery, Deluxe Heated Car and Motorcycle Storage, Tilt Tumble and Cheer and drywall company Quality Services.
“When I bought it, it was a mess. It was the biggest eyesore.” Dubuc said. “It took 30 dumpsters and three months to haul trash away.”
Back in the 1950s, the property was used by a dog food manufacturer and a company that manufactured tires for earth-moving vehicles. It was bought by hot tub and pool company Viscount Pools in 1976.
Owner and head trainer of Trufit Fitness Steve Avey grew up in the area and remembers when the Quonset huts were in bad condition.
“It was really beat up, overgrown and just decaying, rusting away,” Avey said. “Now a lot of people comment on the coolness of the place. We call it ‘the hangar’ because it reminds everyone of an airplane hangar. It’s not your conventional building.”
Before Avey moved his Trufit Fitness there — he first moved his business four years ago into a smaller Quonset hut before expanding — Dubuc rented it for car storage. Much of the property was rented out for storage and a mechanic once occupied one of the buildings.
“Slowly but surely over time, it’s built up with businesses,” Avey said.
Jim Richardson and his wife, Diane Richardson, moved their pottery store from downtown South Lyon earlier this year. Traffic on Rushton Road gives the shop “more exposure,” he said.
A newly constructed space added to the building Polish Pottery occupies features an open area with a large mural depicting the Canadian Rockies, three offices and a break room.
“Recently, I put up the new 1,300-square-feet building that is commercial for lease, and could be a hair salon, a doctor’s office, an insurance company, whatever,” Dubuc said. “I’ll be ready to rent by Monday.”
Looking to the future, Dubuc said he is interested in purchasing 3.3 acres of township-owned land to the south and using it as a park for the adult foster care facility, but he’ll have to wait until the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality signs off on pollution monitoring and remediation the township is undertaking.