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7 of the most exciting developments in Detroit for 2017

Artist rendering of Baltimore Station

From the city's nonprofit organizations to its biggest corporations, a range of contributors are set to alter Detroit's landscape in 2017. Several hundred apartments units will become available in the greater downtown area this year while community development corporations plan to re-energize their neighborhoods with projects of their own. And then there's that arena and those streetcars everyone keeps talking about, too.

As we step into 2017, let's take a look (in no particular order) at some of the development news stories that are sure to influence the way we think about and interact with the city of Detroit.

1. Capitol Park Development Bonanza

Dodging construction crews is practically a sport in Capitol Park, where there is a serious concentration of development going on. With large redevelopments like The Albert and the former United Way building already finished and complete with residents and retail, even more apartments should come online in 2017. Of those expected to open are the Farwell, a mixed-use redevelopment of the historic building that includes 82 apartments, and the brand new 28 Grand development, Dan Gilbert's 13-story building with 218 "micro-lofts"—its average unit size coming in at 260 sq. ft. each.

On the other side of Capitol Park is the Griswold. A five-story addition recently built atop a parking garage, residents are set to move into its 80 units beginning in February.

2. MACC's the Commons

An experiment in community development is on track to open on the city's east side this summer. Called the Commons, the nonprofit group MACC Development hopes it will commercially re-energize and address the needs of their neighborhood. Located at 7900 Mack Ave., the Commons is a 12,000 sq. ft. building that's being transformed from vacancy into a laundromat, coffee shop, and community center all in one.

"It's a risk to start any business, but it's even more of a risk to start a business in the area that we are," MACC executive director Ezekiel Harris told Model D in 2016. "But at the end of the day, that's what nonprofits should be about. We can't be afraid to take those chances because if not us, then who will?"

3. North Corktown

New homes will be going up in North Corktown in 2017. But that's only the beginning of what Christian Hurttienne Architects (CHA) hope will turn into a larger project. Up to 15 new homes is the goal for the developers, with the first two to be built this year. The plots are the property of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, and CHA recently struck a deal with to sell the homes directly to the buyers.

"We work with the homeowners to come up with a design that suits their needs, cost the house, and then help them find traditional bank financing," CHA principal Brian Hurttienne told MLive in November 2016. "The Detroit Land Bank Authority then reviews the request to purchase the lot from their inventory."

The homes will sell for between $150,000 and $200,000.

4. DuCharme Place

It's been a long time coming, but the luxury apartment development DuCharme Place is expected to open in Lafayette Park. A plan that started in 2004 as a block of townhouses has since morphed into a four-building, 185-unit development that features a spa, swimming pool, and private sky terrace complete with a zen garden.

Michael Poris of architects McIntosh Poris Associates told Model D in 2014 that their emphasis on extensive landscaping was in tribute to the neighboring Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed Lafayette Park community, a National Historic Landmark.

5. Recovery Park

RecoveryPark Farms should experience a significant amount of progress in 2017, according to President & Chief Executive Officer Gary Wozniak. The 60-acre urban farm, first announced in 2015, will see the construction of its first three acres of permanent high-tunnels for soil-based vegetable production. Three acres of hydroponic glass greenhouses will also be built. RecoveryPark is partnering with the Raven Lounge and the Chamber Music Society of Detroit for a concert series at the old Chene-Ferry Market site.

RecoveryPark Farms is located on the city's lower east side. The non-profit plans on hiring returning citizens, veterans, and other workers facing challenges for its workforce.

6. More apartments further up Woodward

The 12-story building at 3800 Woodward Ave.—once famous for its flashing neon sign displaying a hammer hitting a nail—is on track for a spring 2017 re-opening. Redeveloped from its office center roots, The Plaza will have 72 market-rate apartments and 2,000 sq. ft. of retail. Detroit-based real estate company the Roxbury Group is behind the $22 million redevelopment, having saved the mid-century tower from demolition.

Further north up Woodward Avenue is a redevelopment project that development group The Platform hopes to finish by December 2017. At the intersection of Woodward and Baltimore avenues is a complete block's worth of historic storefronts that The Platform is renovating into 23 residential units and 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space. Construction will begin in March on what is being called Baltimore Station, a $7.5 million project.

7. The Tuxedo Project

Keep an eye on the 7100 block of Tuxedo Street. That's where Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson is attempting to transform his childhood home, 7124 Tuxedo St., through the power of the literary arts. Having successfully completed a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign late last year—and since receiving a $50,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority—Henderson is set to begin. He plans on transforming the stripped and vacant house into a literary and community center, complete with an English professor-in-residence. Henderson also hopes to eventually incorporate other abandoned and blighted houses on the block.

"It's the idea of the power of one," Henderson told us in 2016. "What happens if one person returns to where they're from and tries to make changes, what will that inspire, and will there be a ripple effect of change."

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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