Final sale: Unfinished Grosse Ile mansion listed for $29M goes to buyer for $3M

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Grosse Ile — After more than a decade in various stages of construction and a year on the market, a Grosse Ile mansion has sold for $26 million less than its initial listing price, still unfinished.

The custom-built home, located at 20638 East River, is 16,855 square feet with eight bedrooms, 19 bathrooms (eight full), a pool inside a conservatory, a theater and an aquarium.

It was listed on Zillow in early September 2018  by Signature Sotheby's International Realty of Birmingham for $29 million.

The home at 20638 East River Road in Grosse Ile on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.

The listing price quickly dropped to $19 million in November 2018 and then to $10 million in January 2019.

It was placed back on the market after a break at $6 million in May 2019 and had a pending offer just shy of $5 million, according to online records.

However, the house on the water sold on Dec. 23 for $2,950,000 at 75% complete, records show.

Realtors did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the drop in price or on the buyer.

The home at 20638 East River Road in Grosse Ile on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.

The home was sold by John C. Bates, CEO of Heidtman Steel, a Toledo company that has supplied steel for three Detroit automakers, and his wife began planning their dream home in 2002. At the time, the house was being built for the blended family of eight children and a few grandchildren. 

The couple from Ohio traveled across the world meeting with architects and collecting ideas for designs that would be incorporated into the home they dubbed Safehaven, real estate agent Sue Lozano told The Detroit News in 2018.

In October 2006, they broke ground and started erecting the foundation with steel beams, rebar and concrete. Then, the recession hit from 2007-09, plummeting the housing market. As time passed, the couple felt the house was too large for them.

They did not finish the home but intended to sell it to a new owner to complete.

Inside the home

The exterior is built with limestone and granite. 

The house's main features include a Tanglewood Conservatory including a conference room with kitchenette and closets, a $2 million 6,500-gallon aquarium, 21-seat theater room in the lower level, poker room, game room, bartop space with family gathering area, wine cellar and a crystal hall to accommodate a curio cabinet for keepsakes.

Of course, the home has a stunning view of the Detroit River with a boat dock with double slips for large yachts and a lift for small boats and water toys.  

Its smaller features include nine fireplaces, a separate apartment on the lower level, guest suite with a walkout patio, large dining room, a butler's pantry and three laundry rooms. 

The main floor, halls, stairs and foyers are all marble and hardwood floors make up most of the bedrooms. The couple also focused on including technology to make the house more modern, including bathrooms with heated towel racks, and all floors have outside decks with heated tubing.

The home has elevators from the lower level to the third level and another elevator from the first floor to the rooftop, where there is a rooftop observatory to enjoy the night sky or view of the river.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_