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George W. Jackson: Brownfield Opportunities Driving Redevelopment of Key Neighborhoods

For years, the building on Second Avenue just north of the Fisher Theatre and former General Motors headquarters was home to a CBS-affiliated radio and television station. When the commercial station left, Detroit's public television station moved in. Now, thanks to some help from brownfield tax incentives, redevelopment opportunities are presenting themselves.

The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (DBRA) has been a national model for rehabilitating abandoned or underused properties, including dozens of vintage buildings in the city of Detroit.

DEGC provides staff for the DBRA, which recently approved brownfield tax incentive plans for six projects, representing a potential redevelopment of $71.6 million. The projects include a youth theatre center and a mixture of residential, commercial and retail developments. The brownfield plans for the projects include proposed Michigan Business Tax credits of $8.17 million and the capture of property tax increments of approximately $345,000.

Brownfield tax incentives are tools to redevelop blighted, functionally obsolete or contaminated properties. Eligible brownfield properties can earn Michigan Business Tax credits, and may be reimbursed for costs such as remediation activities and infrastructure improvements from tax-increment financing.

Gardenview II

Norstar Development USA, L.P. is the developer for three phases of the overall Gardenview Estates, a 139-acre site on the city's northwest side at 18401 Woodmont. The approved brownfield plan is for the next two phases of development, which includes148 units of residential rental housing. The overall Gardenview Estates neighborhood has been planned to include a total of 496 residential rental units, 424 homeownership units along with retail and commercial development.
Total project investment is estimated at approximately $32 million with an expected MBT credit of approximately $3.2 million.
Mosaic Youth Arts Center

Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, a non-profit organization is the developer that will rehabilitate the building located at 7441 Second Ave. The vacant building will be converted into a 30,000 sq. ft. educational and assembly facility for youth. It will have space dedicated to rehearsal rooms, design rooms, a library, performance space and other arts related areas. Approximately 10,000 sq. ft. will be renovated into modern, quality office space.

Total investment for the project is estimated at $9 million with an expected MBT credit of $1.1 million.

St. Aubin Square

Shelborne Development is the developer that will rehabilitate seven buildings near Detroit's Eastern Market, in the block bounded by E. Canfield St., Dubois St., E. Willis St., and St. Aubin into 28 town-homes and 21 apartments. Shelborne will be partnering with Detroit Central City (DCC), Serenity Services, and Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) to provide social services to future residents of St. Aubin Square.
Total investment for the project is estimated at $8.1 million with an anticipated MBT credit of $662,500.

Chalmers Square

Shelborne Development is the developer that will renovate and rehabilitate three buildings on Detroit's east side to create a mixture of low-income and market-rate units, for a total of 49 loft-style apartments along with 18,000 sq. ft. of retail space on E. Jefferson. The buildings are located at 14401 and 14436 E. Jefferson and 1025 Newport St.
Total investment for the project is estimated at $9.3 million for an expected MBT credit of $1.4 million.
Forest Arms Apartments

4625 Second, LLC is the developer that will rehabilitate the historic Forest Arms Apartments building at 4625 Second Ave. Prior to a fire that severely damaged the third and fourth floors, the building's 74 apartments and 2 commercial units were fully occupied. The developer intends to restore the building to its original configuration.
Total project investment is estimated at $9 million with an anticipated MBT credit of $1.1 million, and the capture of incremental property taxes estimated at $344,803.

Scott Castle

Landy Cass Avenue Development will rehabilitate an historic structure located at 3136 Park Avenue and 81 Peterboro Street into 23, one- and two-bedroom apartments. These units will initially be rental apartments to be sold later as condominiums.

Total investment for the project is estimated at $4.2 million with an expected MBT credit of $695,358.

"We are very encouraged by the interest in these developers to invest in Detroit and to rehabilitate or adaptively reuse vintage structures," said George W. Jackson, president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "When older buildings are revitalized they often help define the character of neighborhoods and encourage other investments. In short, everybody wins."

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is a nonprofit organization that works with businesses, government and other organizations throughout Detroit to encourage and manage economic development projects. Its professionals act as staff for several public authorities, including the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the Economic Development Corporation and the Downtown Development Authority.

George W. Jackson is president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, a non-profit organization that works with businesses, government and other organizations throughout Detroit.

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