But all that will change in the coming months when the retreat house is razed to make way for a new neighborhood on one of the last large parcels of land on Spring Lake. The 23-acre property includes 700 feet of water frontage.
Local developer David Bos has purchased the St. Lazare Retreat House property at 18600 W. Spring Lake Road with his best friend, Dale Deppe.
“Right now, we’re in the planning stages,” Bos said. “We’re looking at an upscale, single-family community. We’re in preliminary meetings with township staff planners to make sure of what can and can’t be done.”
Bos operates David C. Bos Homes, which has developed Wildwood Springs, Briarwood Crossing, River Run and other residential communities in the area. Bos said he will respect the natural features of the former retreat property.
“I made commitments to the previous owners about being sensitive to the property,” he said. “It’s an incredible piece of ground. When you view it from West Spring Lake Road, you think it’s flat — it’s not. There’s a beautiful 24-foot-high ridge running right through the middle of the property that most people don’t even know is there.”
St. Lazare Retreat House was built in 1953 and served as a Catholic retreat center, primarily from the Grand Rapids Diocese. It closed this past July.
The facility was operated by the Vincentians, a community headquartered in Philadelphia and founded by St. Vincent DePaul in 1625.
Over the years, retreat attendance dwindled, according to Father Vincent O’Malley, its former director. The Vincentians decided to sell the property and use the proceeds to care for poor and aging priests.
Bos said the number of homes that will go up on the site is unknown at this time, but that he will steer away from high-density development.
“There’s a sense in which it’s a real responsibility to get it right,” he said.
Open space will be part of the site plan. Bos hopes to include a trail system that loops around the property’s pine forest.
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