Future of Escape Reality site up for debatePublished 4:12pm Thursday, December 31, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
It could be considered the most notorious case to come out of Edwardsburg in 2009.
A two-month investigation resulted in the shut down last April of the adult entertainment club Escape Reality, 68502 Cass St. on Pleasant Lake, after the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team together with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on allegations of prostitution.
Several employees were arrested and faced charges that included lewd and lascivious conduct, cocaine delivery and ecstasy delivery.
Now, the owner of the property is proposing new life for the lakefront property – a proposal that will be put before the Cass County Planning Commission and following their recommendation, Village of Edwardsburg board members, for a final vote.
“Nonconforming commercial use in a residential area,” is the state of the property at the present time, as explained by Michael Bell, of the law firm Kotz, Sangster, Wysocki and Berg, who is representing the land owner, Evergreen Land Holding, LLC.
Evergreen would like to see the property rezoned from a single family residential status and classified as multiple family residential in the hopes to begin work on a new development, “Pleasant Shores” described as a “single family attached development” expected to feature five buildings holding four residential units.
Should the rezoning proposal be approved, the residences would be built on property located directly across the street from the Escape Reality site.
Where the former strip club still stands, vacant since last spring’s raid, the structure would be leveled and plans for the property could include an in-ground pool and other amenities.
The proposal was brought before the village planning commission in late November, which recommended it not be approved.
“I understand but respectfully disagree with the decision made by the planning commission,” Bell said. “I felt their decision was based upon variables not within their control.”
Two of the concerns, he thought felt by the village planning commission included boat traffic and drainage.
Boat traffic, Bell said, “is not an issue that’s dealt with in this form.” It is not an issue for the village, he added, “it’s an issue with the state.”
As for the drainage issue, Bell said that during a special meeting being held Jan. 6 at the old Cass County Courthouse during which the Cass County Planning Commission will make their own recommendation, “detailed information” would be presented to show that their drainage system “is fine.”
Following the county meeting, the issue will go before the village council where a final vote will be taken in the matter.
Bell said, “once we get approval” – should that be the case – “we’re going to move forward.”
However, details such as when development would begin, are unavailable at this time.
In an example of the residential units planned for the area, features include a great room, kitchen with island, laundry room, dining area and two stall garage with bedrooms, full bath and a family room included in upper and lower levels. Square footage ranges from 673 square feet for the main level, 1,058 square feet for the upper level and 584 square feet for the lower level.
Evergreen claims its target buyers are those in the market for a second home. Units are estimated to be around a target sales price of $200,000 to $250,000.