Sure, it's in the suburbs, but this nearly 16,000 square foot, 5-bedroom, 7.5 bath estate in Northville has such a bizarre backstory, we're tempting the whirlwind to explore it. It's on the market for $2.3 million more than the auction price for Detroit's Fisher Building, making it the most expensive residential real estate listing in Michigan. In 2004, the mansion's original owner, Dr. Thomas Prose, willed it to the Czech government, got himself appointed "honorary consul for Ohio and Michigan," and asserted that he didn't need to pay property taxes because the estate was technically on foreign soil.
Built in 2000, the house has many opulent touches—marble (so much marble!), statuary, a movie theater (forget the usual cheesy screening rooms - this thing looks like the Fox Theater made a baby in the mansion's basement), 6-car garage, central vacuum (the servants will squee) and an honest-to-God elevator. Prose failed in his attempt at diplomacy, and owed $200K on the property in 2005 when both the US and Czech governments called his bluff. A former medical director of Cigna who runs his own chain of nursing and acute care facilities, Dr. Prose insisted that he didn't actually owe taxes on what the realtor calls "16,000 square feet of elegance."
As Prose explained to the Prague Post after paying the delinquent taxes in 2005, "Does the embassy pay property taxes? Of course not! Does the consulate in New York pay property taxes? Of course not!" While homebuyers may balk at the kind of taxes a $14.5 million estate in the burbs runs, it does have a humidifier, extensive grounds (great place to release the hounds!) and three fireplaces.
Of course, Detroit has something even more fabulous on the market for 1/10 the price—Palmer Park's amazing 1920's gem, the Fisher Mansion went back on the market last month. With three times the bedrooms of the former Czech consulate (honorary), an indoor pool, and zero hideous wallpaper to undo (one of the Northville home's rooms has at least 500 square feet of yellow-and-blue patterned stuff to scape off, complete with horrifying ceiling border), the Fisher Mansion seems like a viable alternative. Oh, and taxes in Detroit, even in the Fisher's tony part of Palmer Park, are certainly lower than in Northville.
·590 Dubuar St., Nothville [Estately]
·Honorary Czech Consul Resigns [UPI]
·Rogue Czech Consulate Shut Down [The Prague Post]
·Dr. Prose's bio [General Medicine]
·Fisher Bldg Auctioned for $12 million [Curbed Detroit]
·Fisher Mansion On the Market…Again [Curbed Detroit]