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Kresge Foundation to provide $1M in grants to Detroit community development organizations

We've been covering neighborhood development news a lot lately, as all parts of the city have gotten more notice for development potential. Some developers have also taken a more nuanced approach to the practice, trying to minimize displacement while creating wealth for Detroiters. 

One way to do that is by support local assets. And that's exactly what the Kresge Foundation is doing with the announcement that it will be providing $1 million dollars in grants to 21 community organizations throughout Detroit. 

"Groups on the front lines of the city's revitalization told us that operating support for their day-to-day operations is the most important contribution we can make to support their work," says Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge's Detroit Program, in a press release.

Organizations like the Southwest Detroit Business Association and the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance will receive between $30,000 and $60,000 annually. 

GenesisHOPE, a community development arm of the Genesis Lutheran Church on the east side that does a lot of work with food security, is one of the smaller organizations on the list, having only two full-time staff members. The grant will allow GenesisHOPE to retain staff and devote more time and resources to engaging the community, says the group's executive director, Jeanine Hatcher.

"There's no one strategy that necessarily works across the city, but these groups are adept at figuring out which ones are worth pursuing on their home turfs," says Hatcher, in a press release. "We are proud to support them, and we'll also be working to bring them together to give them chance to learn from each other."

Stephen Ross, Ford Foundation to invest millions in Detroit neighborhood housing projects

Earlier this year, we covered The Platform, a development firm that's investing millions of dollars outside the 7.2 square miles of greater downtown, and trying to be inclusive at the same time. 

Two major backers have clearly been encouraged by the work, and are inventing huge sums of money in the project. According to Crain's Detroit Business, billionaire Stephen Ross and the Ford Foundation have pledged $7.5 million and $10 million respectively towards The Platform Neighborhood Initiative. The Platform itself has pledged an additional $10 million, bringing the total to $27.5 million. 

"Each of the three investors bring something," write Kirk Pinho and Sherri Welch. "The Platform with the neighborhood development plan, the Ford Foundation with its mission-related investment and broader strategy to support equitable revitalization in Detroit, and Ross with a connection to his hometown and the ability to influence future investment."

Echoing statements made by The Platform executives about equitable development, Xav Briggs, vice president of economic opportunity for the Ford Foundation, said that "investments that displace people from a place they call home are anything but positive."

The Platform has development projects in the works throughout the city. While its most notable purchase was the Fisher Building in New Center, The Platform also does work in Islandview, North End, Live6, and more. They're also one of the development leads, along with Century Partners, on The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, a massive housing project in northwest Detroit. 

Read the full Crain's article here

$12 million development on site of 1967 rebellion in the works

The corner where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began, 12th and Clairmont, has been largely abandoned for decades. But an estimated $12 million development deal might change that. 

According to a Detroit News article, Karasi Development Group is working with the city of Detroit to construct three new mixed-use buildings to the area with ground-floor retail and 45 residential units. 

"The first phase is underway on Atkinson," writes Louis Aguilar, "just around the corner from Rosa Parks, with the overhaul of a dilapidated house that will become the Karasi Education & Cultural Center. The group is in talks with the Motown Museum and the Rosa Parks Institute for potential partnerships at the center."

One of the developers, Katrina Lockhart, was a resident of the neighborhood at the time of the rebellion, and says that, "Most everything was gone (after the five days in July), the stores were burned and most never opened again." 

The last building was razed less than two years ago. 

The article goes on to detail other developers in the Atkinson area, Century Partners, who was profiled in a Model D article on the North End neighborhood.

Read the full Detroit News article here

Unique community of quonset huts near Woodbridge ready for residents

Of all the distinct new housing being built in the city—tiny homes, shipping containers—perhaps none is more distinct than the quonset hut. A number of these horizontal, cylindrical structures made of corrugated steel have been built in a neighborhood near Grand River and 16th that's being called True North.
 
A recent Curbed Detroit article provided details and took some photography of these minimalist huts that are 620 to 1,700 sq. ft.
 
"Some of the spaces will be dynamic and activated, while most will simply be residences," writes Robin Runyan. "They've planted 30 trees and more wild grass and a clay court is yet to come. Of the residences, all seven are occupied or will be rented shortly. One of the huts will be rented out as an Airbnb, while the largest one (the tall one with the ladder) will have a gallery space and an apartment above it."
 
Another notable feature is that each hut is distinct in size and arrangement. According to True North's website, "each unit was designed with a specific trade in mind." All except one of the structures are two stories. 

84-unit, mixed-use development coming to Sugar Hill district in Midtown

Another day, another announcement about new construction in Detroit. 
 
On Friday, June 9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan and a team of developers and designers announced a big development project to be built right around the corner in the Sugar Hill district of Midtown. 
 
The Sugar Hill Mixed-use development will contain 84 apartment units, 25 percent of which will be set aside for low-income residents, along with 7,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a 300-car parking garage, and green alleyways. The development, sitting on nearly one acre of vacant land, will cost an estimated $32 million and is expected to break ground in September 2018. 
 
The development and design teams contains an impressive collection of talent and experience. The head designer will be Phil Freelon, an architect of international renown who designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Freelon will work with the Detroit-based firm McIntosh Poris Associates.
 
Develop Detroit and Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc., two organizations committed to low-income housing, will lead the development. 
 
"Plans for this project go beyond building high-quality, mixed income housing options for Detroiters," said Sonya Mays, CEO of Develop Detroit, in a press release. "We will work hand-in-hand with residents and stakeholders within the existing community to ensure the development is an equitable one; one that creates a walkable environment anchored by commercial and retail spaces, pedestrian streets and alleyways, all of which are accessible to all and ensure continued investment in the arts and culture, education and wellness assets that already call the Sugar Hill district home."

Detroit Future City lays out framework for dealing with city's abandoned manufacturing sites

The next great challenge the city of Detroit might face? What to do with all its abandoned manufacturing sites. 
 
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, that's what the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office will focus on in a new report. 
 
"The numbers alone can stagger," writes John Gallagher. "Detroit contains nearly 900 vacant and mostly abandoned manufacturing sites. They include behemoths such as the old Packard Plant, now in line for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar remake. But more than two-thirds of the vacant factory sites measure less than 10,000 square feet—small tool-and-die shops mostly scattered through the city's neighborhoods."
 
The report, released June 2, notes that, "Many of these buildings abut residential neighborhoods in some of the city's most disadvantaged areas. Without a strategic approach to repurposing these properties, they will remain fallow for years to come, posing threats to public health and safety, and undermining Detroit's recovery."
 
While many challenges remain, the report also notes many successes in repurposing industrial buildings, both local and international. "One example of a recent success was the groundbreaking for automotive parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate’s 350,000-square-foot, $95-million-dollar plant on 30-acres of vacant land on Detroit’s east side. The new facility will generate up to 750 new jobs, 51 percent of which are guaranteed to go to city residents."
 
Read the Detroit Free Press article here. Read the DFC Implementation Office report here

Developers buy four New Center buildings for $3.1M

Optima Aegidius Group, a German-based development group, just purchased four buildings in New Center near TechTown Detroit for $3.1 million, according to a Crain's Detroit Business article.

The four buildings, writes Kirk Pinho, "total just more than 71,000 square feet. The company anticipates building additional space on top, totaling 21,000 square feet to accommodate the planned 60 units. As planned, the project would also have 29,000 square feet of retail space. Construction is expected to begin next year after financing and city approvals are received."

The group has contracted local developer Scott Lowell to carry out the project.

Read the full Crain's article here.

185-unit apartment complex set to open soon in Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park, the east-side neighborhood containing the acclaimed Mies van der Rohe townhouses, has had little new construction for decades. Until now.

DuCharme Place, a $45 million, 185-unit development comprising four apartment buildings, is set to open soon. It will be the first "new lifestyle community in 40 years," according to a Multifamily Executive article. 

The design, writes Jennifer Goodman, was inspired by Lafayette Park's own van der Rohe.

"The contemporary and energy-efficient design will feature a terraced live green roof complete with lawn, garden, fitness center, and swimming pool. Exteriors will include insulated glazing and be clad in a rain screen fiber-cement reinforced panel system with aluminum-framed windows, featuring railings of laser-cut painted metal."

Read the full Multifamily Executive article here.

Future Grandmont-Rosedale food hall could be huge boon for neighborhood

The residents of Grandmont-Rosedale have very few dining options. According to a recent Next City article, that's caused approximately $107 million of economic leakage as those residents travel to the suburbs or downtown Detroit for meals.
 
"To that end, Grandmont-Rosedale Development Corporation and FoodLab Detroit recently joined forces and won a grant from the state to begin planning for a food hall that could foster a more robust restaurant scene and be a boon for the local economy overall," writes Oscar Perry Abello.
 
The hope is that it will be a food hub for the neighborhood, possibly containing restaurants and a market, "while also creating a shared sit-down space for FoodLab."
 
There are not yet any details about when the hall will be completed.
 
To view the complete article, click here.

Bedrock gives sneak peak of units in their micro-apartment building

Curbed Detroit recently released photos and details of Bedrock's micro-apartment building, 28 Grand, currently under construction in Capitol Park.
 
The apartments are quite small—a dormitory-sized 260 square feet on average. But they do come fully furnished, with a kitchen and free Rocket Fiber internet connection included in rent.
 
Another cool feature of the building, according to Curbed Detroit editor Robin Runyan: "There will be 218 micro-apartments total, with 133 market-rate units and 85 apartments for those who qualify for low-income housing tax credits."
 
Click here to see more photos of the construction and some of the finished units.

Fitzgerald community meeting brings community, city together

City officials and community members met on October 24th at the University of Detroit Mercy's School of Architecture to continue discussions about the forthcoming Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, a city-led initiative to rehab over 350 plots of vacant land and houses in the Fitzgerald neighborhood of Detroit's northwest side.
 
This meeting was added after an October 4th meeting, where developers presented their proposed plans for Fitzgerald to community members. Questions and concerns that arose out of that meeting were part of the reason why the city wanted to give another opportunity for people to give feedback. Those at the October 24th meeting had the opportunity to vote on community priority areas for developers, which included issues like security, side lots, and affordable rentals.
 
Local hiring and workforce development was also a hot topic. This issue is particularly relevant in light of contractors for the Little Caesar's Arena being fined roughly $500,000 for their inability to hire the requisite 51 percent of Detroiters for the project.
 
"I want to make sure that the people who live there are well served by the project," said Frank Rashid, a University District resident. He expressed concern about the project fulfilling its intended purposes. "I want to make sure that the people who live there aren't priced out of their homes. I want to make sure whatever is done we're employing the people in the neighborhood."
 
On hand to field questions and feedback like those from Mr. Rashid were a number of city officials, including Alexa Bush, a senior planner with the City of Detroit, as well as Kim Tandy, the District Manager for District 2, which houses the Fitzgerald community.
 
Ms. Bush sees the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project as an opportunity for residents to take part in the future of their neighborhood and gain access to local jobs. "[W]e think that through the rehab of homes, through the transformation of some of these lots, that there's a real opportunity to find some of these jobs," Bush said. These possibilities, as a result, would benefit people living directly in the Fitzgerald neighborhood.
 
She also wants people to stay connected as the process continues to move forward. "I would encourage people who have concerns to come plug in with us, come out to a meeting, call us, check the website. Part of why we wanted to start so many months ago was to give time to get the word out," she said.
 
Community members like Stephanie Harbin are looking forward to what is ahead. Harbin has been a Fitzgerald resident since 1969 and is heavily involved in local community groups, including the San Juan Block Club and the Fitzgerald Community Council. "We are at the point where we need some new life in this area," Harbin said.

BizGrid Live! event to increase connection between entrepreneurs and service providers

If you're a Detroit entrepreneur in search of financial, consulting, or other business services (and what business isn't), you're probably familiar with the BizGrid. The resource, which comprehensively catalogues the organizations that constitute Detroit's business ecosystem, will supplement their directory with a resource fair that's "more like speed dating for business support."
 
Dubbed BizGrid Live!, the event will take place on November 2 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Eastern Market and feature networking, a happy hour, and the opportunity for service providers and entrepreneurs to connect.
 
"You can look forward to meeting face-to-face with service providers to help grow your business, networking among community stakeholders and entrepreneurs alike, educational small biz panel discussions, and a pitch session," according to a press release.
 
The BizGrid is a collaborative project between many organizations in the Detroit Business Support Network, including the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Bizdom, TechTown Detroit, New Economy Initiative, and more. It's regularly updated and available in both directory and infographic form. 

BizGrid Live! will take place on November 2 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Eastern Market. You can RSVP here.

City of Detroit to develop two large, vacant Midtown sites; will include low-income housing

Demand for residential housing in midtown and downtown Detroit has increased so much in recent years that the city is seeing new building construction for the first time in a while.

Now, the City of Detroit is getting in on the action with two large parcels it owns in midtown. But these won't be typical developments—both will be upwards of 60 units, 20 percent of which will be dedicated to low-income housing. The city is seeking proposals to develop the property.

The larger of the two will be at the site of the former Wigle recreation center at 901 Selden Street, now "the largest publicly-held, contiguous development site in midtown."

According to a press release, "Competitive bids will include a well-designed, walkable, environmentally sustainable, mixed-income neighborhood of between 150-200 units, with open space that connects seamlessly to the Midtown neighborhood."

The city is accepting proposals for the second, approximately one-acre site just south of East Forest Avenue past Woodward, which will have ground-floor retail and 60 mixed-income residential units.

"The City expects to select developers based on the strength of their proposals by mid-December," according to the press release. "[The City's Director of Housing & Revitalization] Arthur Jemison said there will be a community engagement process that will allow residents of these areas to have a voice in the selection of the developers."

New pilot program could rewrite zoning codes for the better

Detroit's outdated zoning codes slow development and prevent businesses from opening in locations they're best suited for. Fortunately, according to the Detroit News, a new "pink zone" pilot program, meant to ease zoning restrictions, could be on the way next summer.

Through a grant from the Knight Foundation, "three multidisciplinary teams will put together visions for walkable, mixed-use activity in three commercial sites in Detroit," writes Christine Ferretti. "Later, the concepts will be tested against the city’s zoning ordinance and building code to identify roadblocks and work with city departments and others to identify strategies for reforms."

Detroit planning director Maurice Cox is fully on board with the plan, and described Detroit's present zoning system as "crazy" and inhibiting development.

This, and other recent reforms, have "earned Detroit a nod in the Wall Street Journal this spring as one of five cities 'leading the way in urban innovation.'"

National business leaders bullish on Detroit, Kresge report indicates

The Kresge Foundation, a national nonprofit that supports America's cities and offers numerous Detroit-specific grants, recently released its "Detroit Reinvestment Index," which gathered data on what national business leaders think about Detroit and how the city compares to perceptions of cities generally.

Overall the document offers some hopeful conclusions. Perhaps the most encouraging is that 84 percent of those surveyed—senior leaders at global companies of over 250 employees—believe that Detroit "can become a great city again."

In a letter about the index, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson writes, "With caveats, I think it's fair to say that Business is very bullish on Detroit."

Other "key findings" include...
  • Business leaders believe Detroit has a number of assets, like "its racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, rich cultural history, effective local government, low cost of living and low taxes as key reasons."
  • Surprisingly, "Only 16% of business leaders are aware that Detroit is out of bankruptcy."
There's a lot more to digest in the 43 page report, which is available for download on the foundation's website.
148 Development Articles | Page: | Show All
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