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185-unit apartment development to begin construction this fall

What started as a community of town homes nearly ten years ago has morphed into a four-building, 185-unit apartment development on the edge of downtown. Keeping the original name DuCharme Place, architects McIntosh Poris Associates and long-time Detroit developer Walter Cohen have secured financing to start construction this fall. A late 2015 opening is expected.

DuCharme Place is located at 1544 E. Lafayette St., across from the Lafayette Foods grocery store.

The team began planning DuCharme Place in 2004. The original town home design was scratched, however, when the housing market dropped out during the recent recession. The team revisited the development in 2012, this time with a completely new design. By incorporating heavy landscaping into the development, Michael Poris, architect and principal at McIntosh Poris Associates, says the team is giving a nod to the neighboring Lafayette Park community and its emphasis on green space that resulted from the collaboration between famed architect Mies van der Rohe, landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, and urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer.

The four apartment buildings surround a common courtyard and pool. The buildings are spread across three platforms raised one story above a ground level parking facility of over 200 spaces, which runs underneath the complex. As for the apartments themselves, they'll be 185 market-rate studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom units. Energy efficiency and a living roof are part of the plans, as well.

"They're going to be contemporary. The floor plans are pretty open but the bedrooms will be enclosed," says Poris. "Kind of a 'soft loft.'"

Architects McIntosh Poris and developer Walter Cohen are also working together on the current redevelopment of the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters. Redevelopment plans for the historic building include the 100-room Foundation Hotel and a restaurant.

The Detroit City Council recently approved a nearly $5 million Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority brownfield tax increment incentive plan for the DuCharme Place development.

Source: Michael Poris, architect and principal at McIntosh Poris Associates
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

I-375 Alternatives Study hosts first public meeting

Business owners, residents, and commuters affected by a potential transformation of I-375 were joined by the otherwise curious Thursday evening, Feb. 13, as the Downtown Development Authority hosted the first of three public meetings. A crowd gathered at Stroh River Place in an open house setting as the DDA and their partners in the study, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, guided visitors through a series of informative stations.

Each station provided data regarding project study areas, ranging from cost estimations to current vehicular usage. One station had a map of the area and visitors were asked to place stickers at the points where they felt unsafe as pedestrians. Another map asked visitors to place stickers at places they thought to be aesthetically unpleasing. Visitors were asked, too, of their overall opinion of I-375 and whether think it should remain an expressway or be transformed for a different use.

The I-375 Alternatives Study is a result of the impending reconstruction of I-375. Current estimates place reconstruction costs at $80 million. MDOT has enlisted the help of area stakeholders to determine whether the land in question could be utilized in a more effective way, such as demolishing the below-grade expressway and transforming it into a street-level boulevard.

Taking into account the information gathered from Thursday's public forum, the group behind the study will craft a number of alternative developments for the project areas. Five alternatives will be crafted for the primary study area, the nearly one-mile stretch of I-375. Two alternatives will be crafted for each of the secondary study areas, the I-75/I-375/Gratiot interchange and the I-375/Jefferson interchange. These alternatives will be presented to the public at a later date this spring.

I-375 was built in 1964.

Source: I-375 Alternatives Study public meeting, Feb. 13, 2014
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Link Detroit celebrates groundbreaking of five-phase cycling and greenway infrastructure project

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation, State of Michigan, City of Detroit Department of Public Works, DEGC, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown, Inc., and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, will celebrate the groundbreaking of the five-phase Link Detroit greenway infrastructure project next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Eastern Market's Lot 1 (adjacent to Shed 2).
 
"This goes back a few years," says Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative. He says that when the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009, it was always intended to run further north than where it currently ends at Gratiot. When the first portion of the Midtown Loop opened in 2010, it was intended to go further south and connect to Eastern Market. Link Detroit is the fulfillment of those intentions.
 
The full $25 million scope of this project is fully-funded, thanks in large part to a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in addition to support from the Community Foundation and other partners (see above).
 
There are five phases to this project, and most are able to operate on independent construction schedules simultaneously. Though the "ground-breaking" celebration is next Tuesday, the event is mostly ceremonial. Woiwode says they hope to already have bulldozers at work by then.
 
The five phases include extending the Dequindre Cut north from Gratiot to Mack, rebuilding five bridges over the Dequindre Cut's extension (with funding from the Critical Bridge Fund), extending the trail system and providing some infrastructure improvements and amenities in Eastern Market along Wilkins and Russell St., connecting Wilkins to the Midtown Loop which will be extended south along John R, and the construction of bike lanes and greenways along Dequindre Rd. north of Mack connecting the Dequindre Cut to Hamtramck. Ultimately Link Detroit will connect Midtown and Wayne State to Eastern Market to the Dequindre Cut to both Hamtramck and the Detroit River.
 
They hope to have construction of all five phases completed by this time next year.
 
Source: Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Detroit solicits applications for new owner of Lafayette Towers

Looking for your chance to own a major of architecture by one of the world's most renowned architects? Detroit has your opportunity.

The city has taken control of the Lafayette Towers, a marquee part of the Lafayette Park neighborhood designed by world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The apartment building had been foreclosed on by the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development and handed over to the city of Detroit to find a new owner. The Detroit Economic Growth Corp is soliciting redevelopment proposals for the city.

This high-rise apartment complex consists of two, 22-story buildings on nearly 10 acres of green space. The complex offers 584 market-rate apartments, along with a fitness center, laundry room, community space, pool and parking garage. A solid majority of the complex is leased and the city is looking for a developer with deep pockets to take over the complex and maintain it as a residential area.

"Somebody has to come in with a minimum of $16 million in financing," says Bob Rossbach, a spokesman for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. "This is a going concern that is significantly rented."

For information on the request for proposals send an email to tdsmith@degc.org or click here.

Source: Bob Rossbach, a spokesman for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit Bike Project seeks to link Detroit's greater downtown

Bike-sharing companies, which offer 24-hour access to bicycles for short trips around cities, have popped up in Europe, and along the East Coast; DC, Boston and New York City. If three CCS grads have their way, Detroit will be the next city to offer visitors and residents a network of two-wheeled transportation stations throughout the greater downtown district.

The Detroit Bike Project is the brainchild of Victor Quattrin, Stephanie Lucido and Jenna Przybycien. The three college friends have spent the past year working on the first phase of their plan, which they will submit to Hatch Detroit by the Sept. 1 contest deadline. No matter what happens with Hatch, the three say they're committed to launching the company within the next year.

Their plan involves building park-and-ride bike stations in the Renaissance Center, Wayne State's campus, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Woodbridge, New Center, Grand Circus Park, Corktown and Eastern Market, as a public transportation alternative "Sometimes, there's a little distance between the main veins of Detroit," says Quattrin. "Nothing is really that walkable," says Przybycien, comparing Detroit's layout to that of more densely-populated cities like New York. "If someone parks downtown and wants to head up to Wayne State, it takes a lot of time to get there. Bike sharing allows you to see a lot more of the city, and to get places quicker, because it's so spread out."

With a swipe of a credit card, customers will be able to rent a bike from any station and take a spin through the city -- then drop it off at the closest bike rental facility upon completion.

The Detroit Bike Project will operate as a nonprofit, and they hope the promise of increased mobility from residents and visitors throughout the greater downtown will inspire local companies to lend their support, through advertising or sponsoring a bike station on their properties. They're also committed to purchasing bikes made from recycled materials. The team estimates they'll need $137,000 in investment dollars to launch the first phase of the program.

Lucido says the team is encouraged by the immediate feedback, all of it positive, from the first 48 hours of their viral campaign, which launched last week. "In the first 48 hours, we had 500 page views on our website and 150 likes on Facebook," she says. "We know this can work."

"Our goal is to not let them down, and make things happen," Przybycien says.

Become a fan of the Detroit Bike Project on Facebook, and read more about the team's proposal here.

Sources: Jenna Przybycien, Victor Quattrin and Stephanie Lucido, co-founders, Detroit Bike Project
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Lafayette Foods plans early summer opening

A new grocery store is coming to downtown Detroit, offering customers 14,000 square feet of shopping.

Lafayette Foods will open by early summer on E. Lafeyette Blvd. between Orleans and Rivard, in a shopping center that currently houses Cottage Inn, Metro PCS and Bahn Mai Thai.

Store manager Lance Atisha says Lafayette Foods will offer customers a fresh meat counter, hot and prepared foods, a deli counter, and fresh produce, much of which is sourced from Eastern Market. "It's good quality stuff, and we'll offer some organic selections," he says.

And amid recent media and community debate over the viability of opening a While Foods grocery in Midtown, Atisha says Lafayette Foods' prices will reflect the needs of the community. "It's definitely affordable. We're going to try to cater to the community," he says. "There will be high-end products, but it's not going to cost as much."

He says he's spent a lot of time on local online forums, talking to members of the community about prior ownership of the store and what he can do differently. He says the new owners are listening hard to what local residents say they want from a grocery store.

"People are always talking about, 'Detroit is a food desert.' I don't believe that myself," Atisha says. "But a new store is definitely needed down there, especially with the towers around, and having the security -- it's a whole different story."

He and his partners currently own two markets in Detroit and a third market in Farmington.

Source: Lance Atisha, store manager,  Lafayette Foods
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Three markets, and their customers, to benefit from Green Grocer Project's first award of $90,000

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. has made grants to three city markets under its Green Grocer Project. The grants are the program's first awards since its launch in May 2010, and will benefit the following independent grocery stores:

  • Family Fair Food Center, located on Chene Street at Lafayette, will receive up to $30,000 in matching funds for a planned $350,000 exterior renovation. Improvements will be made to the store's facade, entryway, parking lot, signage and lighting.

  • Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, scheduled to open soon at 3100 Woodward Ave. in Brush Park, will receive $30,000 that will go towards up to 75% of its eligible costs for the development of a store marketing plan and construction documents as well as other start-up-related expenses.

  • Metro Foodland at 18551 Grand River in Rosedale Park will receive $7,500 towards marketing materials including launching and managing a loyalty card and a healthy eating campaign. Another $22,500 is set aside to match other eligible costs for additional store improvements.
The goal of the Green Grocer Project is to improve the overall quality of Detroiters' grocery shopping experiences and access to fresh food. It is funded by the Kresge Foundation and the City of Detroit, but additional funding is being solicited by DEGC to grow the program. It currently includes a technical assistance grant program, a grocer clearinghouse for existing store operators and others interested in making new investments in Detroit and a revolving loan fund.

For more information, or to apply for the program, contact GreenGrocer@DEGC.org.

Source: DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Grab a shovel: Greening of Detroit to plant 1,750 trees by June 5

The arrival of spring heralds the digging of dirt, if The Greening of Detroit's ambitious 2010 schedule has anything to say about it. From April 10 to June 5, about 1,750 trees will be planted citywide in 14 separate plantings. Greening, in partnership with the City of Detroit's General Service Department, will plant 680 trees that will reforest neighborhoods affected by the Emerald ash borer infestation; And about a thousand trees will be planted with over 16 community groups and block clubs.

The schedule is as follows: April 10, University District and Annchester street tree plantings; April 17, Warrendale and E. Outer Drive; April 24, Trumbull and Corktown tree nursery; April 20, East English Village; April 22, Grandmont Rosedale tree nursery; April 25, Creekside; May 1, Boston Edison and Virginia Park; May 8, Beresford Block Club and Osborn Neighborhood; May 15, Hartwell and West Grand Boulevard; May 22, Ecclesia and Pallister Park; June 5, Ferdinand.

More than 1,000 volunteers will be needed; contact Greening at 313-237-8733 to sign up for a planting.

Greening's annual Tree and Shrub Sale will take place on Saturday April 24, from 9 a.m. to noon at Eastern Market's Shed #6. Trees are $30 and shrubs are $20, with special rates offered to Greening members. Pre-orders are being taken now; order forms can be found at www.greeningofdetroit.com.

The Greening's urban agriculture initiative, the Garden Resource Program Collaborative provides training and resources to individuals, community groups and families that grow vegetable gardens. Interested individuals should contact Lindsay Turpin at 313-237-8733.

Source: Monica Tabares, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Community development organizations release right-sizing strategic framework

Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) is comprised of community development organizations from across the city. They built houses before lofts were all the rage, paving the way for for-profit market-rate ventures and, now that the housing market is kaput, they've turned their sights on talking about what's next for Detroit. About a year ago, they formed a Futures Task Force, and the first deliverable is a document entitled "Neighborhood Revitalization Strategic Framework." It looks at the concept of right-sizing, down-sizing or reinventing Detroit -- whatever you want to call it -- and makes a set of recommendations that, hopefully, will guide policy-makers, elected officials and the funding community when they start tackling the heated issue.

"(The strategic framework) is about reinventing Detroit so that it is a better place for people to live in," says Tom Goddeeris, executive director of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation and a Futures Task Force participant. "It's how to think about how to improve it in a way that recognizes that there is lots of vacant land, (there are lots of) vacant buildings and we don't have the population that we once had...We wanted to put forward an idea about the city that says that it can be a better place, a greener place, a more economically viable place."

The community development community has always operated on the notion that rebuilding a city means building more houses. The strategic framework they've released abandons that principle, instead looking at numerous different ways -- be that open space, greenways, urban farms or even traditional neighborhoods -- that Detroit might evolve. "These are concepts to get people thinking a different way as opposed to going back to some previous time where (success meant) more people and more businesses," says Goddeeris. Along with drawing other stakeholders into the conversation, he says a goal of the collaborative is to show that "there can be a vision for reinventing the city in a way that is looking to make it a better place, not as an exit strategy or a sign of defeat."

While the concept of right-sizing holds allure in some camps and -- shades of Poletown -- horror in others, Goddeeris stresses the point that much work can be done before relocation is even close to a reality. "There are parts of the city that we can immediately start strengthening and some that we can immediately start greening without having to displace a bunch of people," he says.

Source: Tom Goddeeris, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. and CDAD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Intensive property survey captures state of Detroit housing, vacancy

The Data Collaborative, a joint effort by the Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response, Community Legal Resources and Data Driven Detroit, has completed a landmark survey of residential properties in Detroit, and the results indicate that 86% of the city's single-family homes appear to be in good condition and another 9% generally only need minor repairs -- meaning that more than 218,000, or 95%, of the city's single-family homes appear to be suitable for occupancy.

While this number sounds heartening, Heidi Mucherie, executive director of Community Legal Resources, urges some restraint in interpreting the numbers. "We have some good-condition housing stock, an asset that we don't fully realize as an asset, and I'm glad that the study substantiates that," she says. However, she points out that large areas of the city have nowhere near these statistics. "This is a citywide aggregate number, and while we might be tempted to say things aren't as bad as we thought they are, (conditions have) changed over the last 10 years, even in traditionally stronger neighborhoods, and I worry about the aggregate figures painting too rosy of a picture."

A statistic that bears out Mucherie's temperance is that 26% of the city's residential parcels -- or 91,000 lots -- are now vacant. But she believes that knowing the good and the bad of where the city currently stands is empowering. "The way I've been thinking about it is that it paints a picture of a moment in time. ... It's only the start, not the ultimate answer," she says. "(These communities are) changing daily, especially neighborhoods hit by foreclosures."

Mucherie says the data collected is only as good as its upkeep and the community's buy-in, as in getting the "community engaged to collect updated information and track how it changes over period of time," she says. "One snapshot in time is not going to provide the answer for very long, but I'm excited about it changing the conversation."

Interested in checking out information about your house, block and neighborhood? Information is easily accessed by visiting www.detroitparcelsurvey.org and typing in a residential property address.

Source: Heidi Mucherie, Community Legal Resources
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Green Space: Lions team up with Greening to make Thanksgiving game carbon-neutral

The Thanksgiving Day home game played by the Detroit Lions every year -- this is the 70th (!) -- is a big-time tradition 'round these parts. And while professional football might not conjure up the greenest of images, this year's Turkey Day showdown is taking on a rather emerald hue. For the third year in a row, the Lions are partnering with TechTown-based Carbon Credit Environmental Services (CCES) and the Greening of Detroit to make the game a carbon neutral event.

The effort begins on November 10 with an official tree planting ceremony at Lafayette Central Park with participation from CCES, Greening and Lions players Jerome Felton and John Standeford and president Tom Lewand. 

The number of carbon credits to purchase and trees to plant was determined by a CCES audit, which estimated the amount of CO2 emissions utilized during the event. The firm calculated energy, heat, steam, waste, and water used in the building (146 tons) as well as the emissions created by the estimated 64,000 fans and team members traveling to the event via vehicle and airplane (320 tons).

In total, 650 trees will be planted in Detroit to compensate for the 466 tons of CO2 emissions.

Source: Monica Tabares, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response marshals resources to keep Detroiters in their homes

The Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response has a tough job: keeping residents in their homes during an unprecedented mortgage meltdown coupled with record unemployment. In the years 2005 to 2008, it is estimated that 51,000 1- to 4-unit residences completed the foreclosure process in the city. "It's not over yet," says Diane McCloskey, the initiative's director of community initiatives. "We're hoping we are through the worst."

To accomplish its goal the Office of Foreclosure, while working closely with banks and community funders like Skillman Foundation and Detroit LISC, aims to be the Detroit clearinghouse for all things foreclosure-related, meaning research, advocacy and relationship- and capacity-building for other community groups helping their residents avoid foreclosure.

A top priority is letting people know their options, which is where ForeclosureDetroit.org comes in. McCloskey says the website is intended to be user-friendly for people of varying levels of computer savviness. "Foreclosures affect people of all economic, racial and social backgrounds," she says. "People make assumptions that people know where to go (for help), but they have no idea where to reach out (to) -- we needed a way (to give them information) quietly, in the privacy of their own home...sitting at a friend's house or the library."

The site details resources for people in various places on the spectrum of foreclosure trouble -- from someone who hasn't even missed a mortgage payment yet to someone who has already lost their home.

Community meetings on the foreclosure issue are headed to various Detroit neighborhoods in the coming months, with planning underway for a larger summit before the end of the year.

Source: Diane McCloskey, Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Community Development Advocates of Detroit propose comprehensive land use strategy

Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) is a trade association for the city's more than 60 community development corporations. At the end of 2008, the group decided to create an emergency task force to help its members deal with the financial crisis through advocacy, resource identification and technical assistance.

Growing from that work, the committee, now called the Futures Task Force, has released a set of land use recommendations for Detroit that include some concepts that are being discussed by many -- such as the repurposing of vacant land -- but with an added focus on the importance of community development organizations in the work to be done. "What we're saying is not radically different (than what others are saying)," says Tim Thorland, CDAD's chairperson and executive director of Southwest Housing Corp."(Our vision) is nuts and bolts, what organizations with resources that they have identified think they can accomplish based on practical ideas from people that live in these neighborhoods."

CDAD's recommendations call for a bold new vision for Detroit, one that targets resources into denser neighborhoods and requires unprecedented collaboration. And what community development corporations bring to this table, besides a proven track record of real estate development, is the voice of the community, says Thorland. "(It's) necessary to the success of whatever plan you want to implement and it's the one asset we have that nobody else does," he says. "It's in an honest and meaningful way, not window dressing...We've been doing this for 30 years in the best interest of the community, what the community has told us that they want."

CDAD plans to shop its plan to city officials and foundations. Read the entire set of recommendations here.

Source: Tim Thorland, CDAD and Southwest Housing Corp.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


LISC accepting nominations for CDC of the year

Is your neighborhood a better place because of the efforts of your local community development corporation? If so, nominate it for Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation's (LISC) 9th Annual Detroit Community Development Awards.

The first category, CDC of the Year, will go to a comprehensive organization that builds houses and maybe even takes on commercial development. It delves into community issues of all stripes and probably is involved in a park or greenway project.

The second category, Community Champions, is for ordinary citizens that go to extraordinary lengths to improve their neighborhood. There will be five winners of this award, one in the following geographic areas: Central Woodward, East, Northeast, Northwest and Southwest. Additionally, three organizations will be designated as Community Champions.

Nomination forms and additional information are available at www.detroit-lisc.org. They are due on Friday, July 17 and will be handed out at the awards ceremony in September.

Source: Detroit LISC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


WDET, Model D partner on series looking at how Detroiters are facing the foreclosure crisis

This week, public radio station WDET 101.9 FM launched a special series, "Facing the Mortgage Crisis: Home Is More Than Our House," that will air over the next seven weeks. Starting next week, Model D will also present a series of stories on the topic. The media partners will join together on June 24 for a Speaker Series that will delve into the subject matter from yet another angle.

Model D publisher Brian Boyle sees an opportunity for the local coverage to reveal individual neighborhood responses to the crisis. "In this market, with everything being so cheap, you don't have to wait for a program," he says. "Individuals are doing some of the more innovative things."

Listeners and readers will learn about volunteer opportunities and other ways to take action. WDET also will host a blog at on its web site that will compile all information reported on-air.

Sign up for the Model D speaker series here, and follow WDET during its news programs like Detroit Today for more from the series.

Source: WDET and Brian Boyle, Model D
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

46 Lafayette Park Articles | Page: | Show All
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