Preservation for Economic Development

The restoration of the Globe Trading Company building in the East Riverfront District of Detroit took another step forward recently when the State of Michigan recommended it be placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There is still a lot of work to do before reconstruction begins, but it is a good example of how DEGC appreciates the potential economic development value of vintage buildings.

DEGC works as the staff of the Downtown Development Authority, the Economic Development Corporation, the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and in partnership with private developers who put their own funds at risk to generate new lives for older buildings.

Over the last six years DEGC has facilitated brownfield tax credits and other incentives to help save and restore well over 100 vintage buildings. The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has been effective working with developers to generate incentives that will help pay for site cleanup and other preparations for turning obsolete, vacant or underused buildings into new uses.

Our downtown fa├žade improvement program also offered matching grants for owners of older buildings who were willing to share the costs of permanent enhancements to their exteriors. We also helped move the Gem Theater and the Elwood Bar and Grill to make room for Comerica Park.
When DEGC supports a building restoration or adaptive reuse, it is based on a solid business plan and available financing. Unfortunately, many buildings have been vacant for too long, leading to conditions that make their redevelopment economically difficult, especially given current market conditions. In some cases, older buildings downtown have made way for new market-oriented developments like the Compuware's world headquarters, One Kennedy Square and the soon-to-open Rosa Parks Transit Center.

Cities evolve, taking the best of the old and the new. These challenging times call for creative thinking for all kinds of development projects. DEGC stands ready to work with those interested in taking on that challenge and investing in Detroit.

Olga Stella is the vice president of business development for the DEGC.

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