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SOUTHFIELD, MI-The Southfield City Council has agreed to sell a money-losingpublic facility to a private group after some dispute over future ownership.The Moslem Shriners, now located in a portion of the Masonic Temple inDetroit.

That organization wants to use the Centre for the Arts property for a newheadquarters, and have agreed to buy the 44,000-sf Southfield for $3.35million, said City Manager Don Gross.The property was formerly the B’nai David Synagogue.

The building has costthe city $700,000 each year for eight years to operate, Gross said.”The building has been a little bit of a financial burden,” Gross toldGlobeSt.com. “This is a respectable use for the property, and puts it backon the tax rolls.”

The Shriners had pulled out of a deal when four groups were bidding for theproperty last fall. The city then agreed to sell the building and thesurrounding 10 acres to Family Victory Fellowship Church for $3 million.”All the other bidders backed out, including the Shriners,” Gross said.”They were going through a leadership change.”

The church was given 100 to 120 days to come up with the money, but failed to achieve that level of funding, Gross said. The Shriners jumpedback in with their offer, and the council accepted, Gross said. The Shriners project is the only option that would return tax dollars to theproperty, Gross said.

Now, the Shriners will hold a membership meeting June 9 to hold a finalmembership vote on the purchase, Gross said.The Shriners will have to apply to change the residential zoning of theproperty, because the group wants to get a liquor license and rent the placeout for banquets and parties when not in use by the club.

The other two bidders had been Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church, basedin Detroit, which had offered $3.4 million to use the arts center as achurch and Sunday school.The Southfield Public Schools offered $1.35 million and 50 acres of land onInkster Road just south of 11 Mile Road to create an alternative school.

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