Fisher Mansion to become retreat
Detroit – — The opulent Fisher Mansion in Palmer Woods soon could become a “spiritual retreat” for those seeking to overcome drug addictions, officials confirmed Monday.
Purchased in August for $1.6 million by an anonymous buyer, the 28-room Tudor Revival-style home on Balmoral Drive is being rehabilitated and upgraded to become Breathe Life Healing Center, officials with the California-based company confirmed Monday. It could open this winter.
Breathe Life Healing Centers operate in Hollywood and Gramercy Park in Manhattan and cater to upscale clients and are led by Brad Lamm, a self-help guru who bills himself online as “Dr. Oz’s interventionist.” The mansion also will be his primary home, officials confirmed.
“I’m happy to join the community here in Palmer Woods and open Breathe treatment services in Palmer Park.” Lamm said in a statement provided to The Detroit News. “We believe in the possibilities inherent in all individuals and see our new locations as a rich embodiment of that notion.”
Neighbors in the upscale neighborhood have heard rumors about the center and are “very concerned,” said Rochelle Lento, a board member for the Palmer Woods Association.
“Palmer Woods is a residential community. ... It’s not zoned for commercial use or a group home,” she said. “There are clear zoning guidelines and a rehab center is not zoned for Palmer Woods.”
Craig Vanderburg, president of the Palmer Woods Association, said he has similar questions.
“All of our houses are serving as single family residences … to open something like that would be a total different approach,” he said.
Breathe Life spokesman Corey Martin said “there will be no medical care” at the mansion that was built in the 1920s. Instead, a separate facility on Seven Mile near Livernois would treat clients for chemical dependency, nicotine addiction and compulsive overeating. Among other high-end services, the centers treat caffeine addiction and something called “failure to launch,” according to its website.
It’s unclear if the facility would need zoning changes or a special license in Palmer Woods. Detroit officials said they haven’t received any applications from the company for the Balmoral address.
The mansion would serve as a “spiritual retreat that provides a peaceful living environment for those looking to find respite and lead happier, healthier lives.” Facilities in Los Angeles and New York have manicured grounds, reflection pools and similar amenities.
Lamm said in a statement that he is moving to Detroit because Quicken Loans founder and real-estate magnate Dan Gilbert convinced him that “opportunity and need intersect in Detroit.”
Lamm is an author and self-help specialist who has produced a series on overeating for the Oprah Winfrey Network and written a book about food addiction, according to his website. He regularly appears on “The Today Show” and “The Dr. Oz Show” and founded the wellness centers in 2013.
The mansion was built in 1926 by auto baron Alfred J. Fisher, one of seven brothers who founded the Fisher Body Corp. Nestled on three acres, it features an indoor swimming pool, two kitchens, lavish gardens, a billiard room, a paneled library, a ballroom with stage, an eight-car garage, Pewabic tile throughout; a sunroom with leaded and stained glass and a hand-forged gateway.
The Fisher family donated the estate in 1968 to the University of Detroit Mercy. George and Christine Michaels bought it in 1979. It has been vacant for about four months and maintained by a caretaker, Lento said.
The home was sold following an “ugly, weird foreclosure,” said Matthew Duffield, a Keego Harbor agent who brokered the sale.
He said he “purposefully tried to avoid the buyer’s business” during the sale.
Breathe Life officials confirmed the move after The News began asking questions on Monday. Later Monday, the company filed incorporation papers with the state of Michigan as a nonprofit dedicated in part to helping those with “substance abuse, trauma and food addictions.”
The company also updated its website to list Detroit as a location and announce that it is hiring staffers. It plans to hire 20 staffers at its location at 7303 Seven Mile and host a job fair there on Oct. 21.