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Plan Would Turn Detroit Golf Course Into Cemetery

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A 120-acre golf course in Detroit is being sold, and the new owners plan to replace the greens with a graveyard.

Greater Grace Temple, which bought the 18-hole New Rogell Golf Course from the city several years ago, is selling the property to Detroit Memorial Park -- which wants to turn it into a burial ground.

Bishop Charles Ellis III said the course, located on 7 Mile Road between Berg and Lahser roads, has never been profitable for the church. Ellis said they have been spending up to $100,000 annually to keep the course open.

"We were just holding the property," Ellis told the Detroit Free Press. "We're a church. I'm not trying to operate a golf course."

The golf course became the first black-owned course in Michigan when purchased by Greater Grace for $2 million in 2004. It's scheduled to shut down May 31.

Officials say construction on the site wouldn't begin until the cemetery plan is approved by state regulators. If approved, it would be the first new cemetery in Detroit in decades.

Area resident James Beeler told Detroit Free Press he's concerned property values will drop if the plan is approved, since the golf course gives them a boost.

"It was one of the premier golf courses in the city of Detroit," he said. "We had great hopes."

Beeler also pointed to the fact that the area already has two other cemeteries -- Grand Lawn Cemetery, near Telegraph Road and Grand River Avenue; and Mt. Hazel Cemetery on Lahser Road just south of 7 Mile Road. He said adding a third one to the area would be too much.

The golf course is one of the longest standing of its kind it Detroit. It was founded in 1914 by philanthropist Max Fisher and other prominent business leaders.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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