Is McClendon Pulling Up Stakes On Singapore Dunes?

Oklahoma City billionaire Aubrey McClendon may be tired of West Michigan’s  resistance to his Singapore Dunes commercial development at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck.

On April 29, a new listing for McClendon’s 1 Singapore Dunes Way was posted by the Andrea Crossman Group with an asking price of $10 million. The six-acre stretch of Lake Michigan coastline features a massive 8,300-square-foot, five-bathroom, six-bedroom “single-family” home “that could never be built here again,” according to the property listing.

McClendon, the former CEO of fracking giant Chesapeake Energy, acquired the listed property along with 400 acres of dunes along the Lake Michigan coast in 2006. His hopes to develop the area were challenged when Saugatuck residents rejected zoning variance requests in the following years. This prevented McClendon’s development firm, Singapore Dunes LLC, from constructing a sprawling commercial center on the well-preserved dunes between Saugatuck’s Oval Beach and the Saugatuck Dunes State Park Nature Area.

On April 4, however, the Saugatuck Township Zoning Board of Appeals denied an appeal from locals and the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance to halt Singapore Dunes’ revised plans for construction of a 25-condominium complex on the property, proposed last December.  While the Coastal Alliance presented arguments to the ZBA about the endangerment of the unique Saugatuck Dunes ecosystem, ZBA Chairman Shawn Powers said that decisions about the wetlands would be made by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The Coastal Alliance is currently pursuing other courses of action to prevent further development.

Although it seems that development efforts on the Singapore Dunes property may still go forward, seeing McClendon’s palatial waterfront residence listed for sale hints that his personal interest in the area is waning. In a 2010 interview, McClendon called the area “one of the most beautiful pieces of land I’d ever seen,” but his conflicts with the community and the controversy surrounding the development certainly do not suggest that he will be welcomed warmly by neighbors. Coming months will see how McClendon further plays out his strained relationship with Saugatuck.

The currently-approved plans for McClendon’s Singapore Dunes development can be viewed here.

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