Nothing stops Midtown. A request for proposals is currently open through the end of the month for development plans for a mixed-use project on Canfield between Cass and Woodward.
The RFP was issued by Wayne State University, which owns the land and is considering this site as phase two of its South University Village District (phase one was the Studio One apartments development with ground-floor retail, named "Development of the Year" for 2008 by Crain's Detroit Business
"We want to add density and vibrancy to the neighborhood," says Ned Staebler, Vice President for Economic Development at Wayne State University. "Cass and Canfield is the epicenter of the residential community blooming in Midtown." With all of the retail stores, galleries and restaurants recently opened and scheduled to open in the immediate vicinity, Staebler says that this area is the right scale for walkability. "The next logical step is to add more to it."
With Midtown occupancy at 95 percent and developers circling around looking for parcels of land in the area, this location is a prime piece of land for new development, and also saves would-be developers the cost of acquisition.
While an open RFP seems like a non-traditional approach to such a potentially major development, Staebler believes it encourages more creativity. "We have done the RFP process in the past. For something like this where it's going to be very visible we think we'll get a better result if we open it up and let a lot of visions come forward from the private sector."
Though proposals are due at the end of May, it will be months still before we hear what is planned for the site as the selected developer acquires financing and the university goes through the process of getting a zoning change for the land Staebler hopes for a ground-breaking this fall with construction beginning in earnest next spring.
The development will include housing for young professionals, graduate students, faculty and staff, with ground floor retail, office and event space. "We're viewing this as a partnership (to) create a more exciting and vibrant neighborhood. We have a long-term plan for that area and this is part of it. This is us making another investment in Midtown. We're believers in its health and success."
WSU owns several more parcels of land and surface lots on Canfield and Willis. The masterplan calls for mixed-use developments on all these sites.
Source: Ned Staebler, Vice President for Economic Development at Wayne State University
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
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