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245 Redevelopment Articles | Page: | Show All

Bedrock to invest $2.1B in downtown Detroit development projects

Bedrock, the real-estate and development firm headed by Dan Gilbert, has already reshaped downtown Detroit by buying and redeveloping dozens of historic buildings and populating them with tenants. But its project of remaking downtown Detroit has just begun.

Bedrock just announced that it plans to invest an additional $2.1 billion in large-scale downtown developments. The projects include: the Hudson's Site, Monroe Blocks, Book Tower, and One Campus Martius expansion. 

"Detroit is going vertical," said Gilbert in a press release. "In fact, that is the only way to create any type of significant expansion in the city because we are virtually at full occupancy for residential and commercial space in both downtown and midtown. Transformational projects like these are necessary to both accommodate the expansion of current downtown businesses as well as making Detroit a legitimate competitor for new businesses and massive opportunities (like Amazon's HQ2), and attracting vital talent from all over the country and world."

The biggest development will be the 1 million-square-foot development on the Hudson's site, and cost an expected $900 million. Bedrock also claims it will have the tallest tower in the city. 



This publication is especially excited about the $313 million redevelopment of the Book Building and Tower, which Bedrock describes as "one of the most significant historic rehabilitation projects ever undertaken in Detroit." The Book Building has been abandoned since 2009, but was acquired by Bedrock in 2015 and got a power wash to its dirty limestone earlier this year. 

[Check out this Model D article on a Detroit company that specializes in historic restoration and worked on the Book Building]

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

Downtown architecture exhibit to showcase the future of design in Detroit

September is filled with dozens of events relating to design in Detroit. We detailed many of the ways the city is celebrating its history of design, plus current and future efforts, which are all part of the Detroit Design Festival spurred by UNESCO endowing Detroit with its prestigious "City of Design" designation.

Much of this work is to determine what Detroit's urban environment will look like and how design can contribute to it. And that's exactly what an architecture exhibit opening downtown hopes to showcase. 

Called "Detroit Design 139," the exhibit will highlight 38 development projects throughout Detroit's 139 square miles. It is presented by Bedrock and the city of Detroit. The architectural designs on display include a mix of redevelopment efforts, like the David Whitney Building downtown, the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project in northwest Detroit, and the redesign of the East Riverfront. 

The exhibition also put forth "10 Design Principles" to demonstrate what kinds of designs will lead to a healthy, attractive city. They're interesting and worth listing in full:
 
  1. Advance design as a means to improve the quality-of-life for all people
  2. Balance function and beauty
  3. Advance a thoughtful design process rooted in meaningful community engagement
  4. Seek creative solutions to solve long-standing urban issues
  5. Honor context and history through contemporary design
  6. Activate the public realm
  7. Balance community cohesion with aesthetic diversity
  8. Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences—emphasizing equity, design excellence, and inclusion
  9. Explore new ways to live, work, and play together in the 21st century city
  10. Celebrate Detroit's design legacy, while contributing to the city's design future
"Detroit Design 139" will be on display at the ground floor of 1001 Woodward in Campus Martius starting Sept. 14. It is free and open to the public from noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

City of Detroit sends message to speculators, issues 700 lawsuits

One common concern amidst Detroit's economic resurgence is the way speculators, many from outside the city, have acquired swaths of land only to sit on it. One WDET segment on Detroit Today estimated that speculators own 20 percent of all parcels in Detroit, but "have no real obligation to insure that land is well kept or fits into an overall neighborhood community."

That is, until recently. According to a Crain's Detroit Business article, the city of Detroit will be filing 700 lawsuits against negligent speculators. Writer Chad Livingood estimates that the number of individuals and companies affected by the lawsuits may climb to 1,500 by November. 

"The lawsuits target banks, land speculators, limited liability corporations and individuals with three or more rental properties in Detroit who typically buy the homes for cheap at a Wayne County auction and then eventually stop paying property tax bills and lose the home in foreclosure."

[For more information on the tax auction and foreclosures, check out Model D's two-part series on the topic]

Speculators swallowed up this land because it was sold, in some cases, for hundreds of dollars. The city had already filed nearly 70 lawsuits in August for owners who had more than $25,000 in unpaid property taxes. 

The article also states that, "the lawsuits do seek to establish a legal means for going after investors who buy cheap homes at auction and either rent them out and not pay the taxes or walk away from the house because it's damaged beyond repair, [attorney Andrew] Munro said.

"'That's the kind of behavior the city is trying to change,' he said."

September in Detroit means Design: 2017 Detroit Design Festival kicks off

In Detroit, you might as well call September "Design Month." Thanks to the efforts of Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), a variety of design-themed events have been planned for the month as part of the Detroit Design Festival (DDF). 

The month kicks off with the Detroit City of Design Summit from Sept. 8 through 15 (last year's inaugural summit was covered by Model D). The event was spurred by UNESCO endowing Detroit with its prestigious "City of Design" designation—the first city in the United States to receive one. It will explore how Detroit can harness the designation and the efforts made towards that goal in the last year.

From Sept. 9 through Oct. 7, guests can view "Footwork," an exhibition put on by a series of partners on the future of work. Model D covered the group that went to St. Etienne, France where the exhibition was originally on display. 

The "festival" portion unofficially begins with a Drinks x Design on Sept. 14, where attendees can grab a program guide and tour some design-centric businesses and organizations. 

As usual, DC3 has helped organize the wondrous Eastern Market After Dark and Light Up Livernois events—annual displays of the ways art and business and historic public spaces can enliven each other. 

The 2017 Detroit Design Festival is taking place throughout most of September and some of October. Most of the events are free. View the whole DDF schedule here

Pure Detroit offers public walking tours of Packard Plant

For years, the Packard Plant has been a kind of mecca for urban explorers. It's no wonder—the 3.5 million square foot ruin has been abandoned for decades and is a marvel of might and blight. 

But soon, you won't have to be a trespassing explorer to see in inside of the Packard Plant. Pure Detroit, in partnership with Arte Express Detroit, will offer public walking tours of the historic Packard Plant on Saturdays, beginning August 12. 

The tours will last 90 minutes and cost $40. With space limited to 30 adults per tour, you'll have to reserve your spot in advance.

"Pure Detroit is excited to help highlight the extraordinary history of the Packard Plant with our partners Arte Express Detroit and the Packard Plant Project," said Kevin Borsay, owner of Pure Detroit, in a press release. "Our walking tours will offer a unique and enriching experience that focuses on the plant's past, present, and future contribution to the vitality of the city."

There have been rumors floating around about redeveloping the Packard Plant for years. Developer Fernando Palazuelo had said he plans to invest $500 million into the project. According to an article in Curbed Detroit, the first phase, a $16 million renovation of the Administration Building, will be completed by the end of 2018. "The building will be renovated for offices, with restaurant, gallery, and event space on the first floor."

Register for a tour of the Packard Plant here

A new program teaches Detroiters how to invest in property to profit from city's real estate boom

Wealthy developers are snapping up properties left and right in Detroit, leaving many residents to wonder if they'll be left with just the scraps. But, according to a City Lab article titled, "Can Detroiters Finally Get a Stake in the City's Real-Estate Boom?", a new real estate program looks to give Detroiters the information they need to invest in property.
 
The article details "Better Buildings, Better Blocks," "a neighborhood-based real-estate class that provides education and resources to residents of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park," writes Andrea Penman-Lomeli.

"It was recently selected as one of the 33 winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge, which will provide three years of funding for the class. Individuals who take the course learn firsthand how to invest in properties, focusing on acquisition, financing, and project management for small-scale projects. The goal of the program is to create a network that ensures that communities can sustainably rehabilitate residential and commercial spaces and that Detroiters can finally articulate how their city is remade."
 
The program is run by Chase Cantrell, of Building Community Value, who was featured in a Model D article about combating income inequality where he talked about the course, which he was in the process of designing.
 
"Part of the model is to create a fund that'll serve a singular purpose to invest in projects that come through the cohorts," said Cantrell in November 2016. "Once you go through the program, if you have a promising project, you can get a loan or equity investment from the fund."
 
According to the City Lab article, much of those original goals are still in place. Sessions will be taught by local developers, based on a curriculum designed by University of Michigan professor Peter Allen. 

Learn more about the "Better Buildings, Better Blocks" course here.

Details of Free Press Building redevelopment emerge

Among the numerous downtown redevelopments taking place in Detroit, perhaps none is more exciting than the old Detroit Free Press Building. 
 
The architecture and interior design firm Kraemer Design Group (KDG), in a newsletter, released some of the details of its renovation. There will be "structural updates, complete masonry restoration, new energy-efficient windows and a fresh interior design." The final result, which seeks to preserve the historic elements of the building, will be a mixed-use retail, office, and residential. 

Bedrock owns the building, which is expected to reopen in 2020 at a cost of nearly $70 million. According to a Crain's Detroit Business article, "Asbestos and lead abatement, demolition and hazardous material removal will earn Bedrock about $7 million in brownfield tax abatements."
 
The Free Press Building is one of the more iconic structures in downtown Detroit. Designed by Albert Kahn, it has some impressive limestone carvings, statues, and reliefs done by Ulysses Ricci. It was constructed in 1925 and has been abandoned since 1998. (Source: Historic Detroit)

Local media outlet to explore impact of neighborhood redevelopments

The city of Detroit, foundations, and major developers have been increasingly active in neighborhoods outside the city's urban core. The impact of all this new investment on residents hasn't come close to being grasped. Some organizations and media outlets are trying.

Last month, TheHUB Detroit, a magazine that focuses on Detroit's neighborhoods, launched a "year-long in-depth report on neighborhood-specific investments." In an article outlining the aims of its investigation, editor Jackie Berg writes, "We'll take an in-depth look at the size and scope of neighborhood redevelopment efforts and examine commitments being made by developers to build or preserve affordable housing for low-income families and seniors, explore whether gentrification without displacement is a threat or boon to Detroit, and we'll examine the impact of minority contractor awards associated with related construction efforts."

The series, called "Living In and Loving Detroit," will begin with District 5, which covers wide swaths of midtown, downtown, and the east riverfront. "We discovered half a billion dollars in neighborhood investments underway in District 5 alone. These include residential developments and mixed-use projects that combine housing and retail or office spaces, renovations of historic industrial spaces to a modern healthcare facility."

While few specifics were laid out in how the investigation will proceed, or how deep it will go, Model D will certainly be paying attention. 

Massive Herman Kiefer development progressing

Just because no shovels have hit the dirt, that doesn't mean there hasn't been progress at the vacant Herman Kiefer Hospital complex development near Detroit's Boston Edison neighborhood. 

According to a Detroit News article, head developer Ron Castellano is set to take over the site this spring as part of a $143 million, "multi-year development agreement to rehabilitate and reuse the seven medical complex buildings and 462,605-square-foot main hospital, the former Hutchins and Crosman schools, as well as the JTPA nursing school."

The deal was approved in 2015, but because of the complicated funding package and phased development plan, it took time to transfer the properties. "Castellano explained each piece of the project should raise enough money to support itself and also help fund another piece of the development," writes Christine Ferretti. 

An important piece of the total funds will come from potential brownfield development reimbursements totalling $47.7 million to clean up waste from prior developments. 

Also noteworthy, the project may be the first in the city to operate under Detroit’s new community benefits ordinance. "The law, approved in November, lays out a process for engaging the community to negotiate job guarantees and other factors for projects worth at least $75 million. The multiphase project is expected to produce at least 1,067 jobs."

Read the full article here.

City of Detroit puts out RFP for affordable housing redevelopment in Banglatown

We at Model D are big advocates for strategic use of affordable housing (check out our piece from January on the topic). That's why we're excited about another affordable housing project, this one taking place in Banglatown, near the Detroit-Hamtramck border.

Curbed Detroit reports that the city of Detroit put out an RFP for a vacant Catholic school in the neighborhood. The Archdiocese of Detroit currently owns the building and will be collaborating on the project. 

21,500-square-foot Transfiguration School Building, writes Robin Runyan for Curbed, "could be converted into 15-25 residential units, 20 percent of which will be affordable housing. Many of the building’s original features such as terrazzo flooring, tin ceilings, and original woodwork are in excellent condition."

Check out the RFP here

Major improvements coming to East Riverfront

In just the last few years, a lot of development has taken place in the East Riverfront area adjacent to downtown Detroit, such as Harbortown Apartments and Outdoor Adventure Center. Even more is still to come.

This week, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, City of Detroit Planning & Development Department and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) released a strategic framework plan for the East Riverfront.

The plan establishes an expanded riverfront "parkland" that will be "free from development forever." There will also be two additional "Dequindre Cut-style greenways" and streetscape improvements to increase connectivity to the riverfront. 

"The riverfront belongs to all Detroiters," said Maurice D. Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, in a press release. "Thanks to the involvement of hundreds of residents, we have principles that frame an international riverfront that can be accessed and enjoyed by all."

The DEGC also announced an RFP for the Stone Soap building at 1490 Franklin. According to the press release: "The RFP will envision an adaptive reuse of the historic structure with a mixed-use development that will increase density along the riverfront."

Read more about the plans for the East Riverfront here


Downtown synagogue hires rabbi, plans major renovations

For the first time in 16 years, Detroit's only synagogue will have a new rabbi.

Arianna Silverman was named the rabbi of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue last year, according to an article in the Detroit News. Previously, the synagogue was lay-led, meaning members of the congregation would lead services.

Silverman, a "a 39-year-old Manhattan transplant," said a major reason she took the post was because of the youth-led Jewish revival in the city. "They are a big reason I'm here," Silverman said in the article. "We have plenty of people who attend our services who are in their 20s and 30s. Many are involved in nonprofit work, community gardens, social justice, cultural issues."

In related news, "The synagogue is preparing to launch a multimillion-dollar campaign to restore the building," writes Louis Aguilar. "They want to convert the top two floors into more office space, add an alternative chapel, as well as community meeting and rental facilities."

Plans in the works for revitalization of Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne, the historic star-shaped fortification located in Detroit's Delray neighborhood, is an underused landmark in the city. Aside from weekend visitors and the occasional event, the fort sits largely unused. But in the coming years, Fort Wayne may get considerably more use, perhaps even tenants.

The Kresge Foundation recently awarded a $265,000 grant for a two-year project of renovation and strategic planning.

The grant will help fund a project director, National Park Service urban fellow David Goldstein, to guide the planning process. "The consultant will also be charged with creating a leasing program for the City of Detroit, which will allow for the renovation and use of the more than 30 military buildings in the fort complex," according to the press release. "An RFP is expected to be released by spring 2018 to seek proposals from prospective tenants, including community and cultural organizations, to renovate and lease buildings on the fort grounds."

"For nearly 175 years, Historic Fort Wayne has stood as a cultural and historical landmark, today attracting some 150,000 visitors a year, from neighborhood soccer leagues to Civil War re-enactments," said George Jacobsen, senior program officer in Kresge’s Detroit Program, in a press release. "As we think about its place in the fabric of Detroit now and in the future, Historic Fort Wayne holds great promise as an active and connected point for the Southwest Detroit and broader communities to recreate, as a space to celebrate contributions of multiple cultures, and as a potential location to support the development of small and creative-sector businesses."

The project is a partnership between the City of Detroit, the National Park Foundation (NPF) and the National Park Service (NPS) Midwest Region.

Photographer lists Detroit buildings that should be saved

Detroit has a mixed record of historic building preservation. Thanks to recent economic developments, many of it's building are not only being preserved, but restored.

[Check out this Model D article looking back at the last decade of historic preservation in Detroit]
 
But that doesn't mean there aren't buildings at risk of demolition. And one young photographer put together an excellent list titled, "Buildings in Detroit That Need to Be Saved in 2017."
 
Eric Hergenreder included seven buildings (many of which he photographed as well) in his list, such as the Belle Isle Zoo and Free Press Building.
 
Hergenreder also includes nice write-ups of each building, like this one for the United Artists Theater: "The United Artists Theater, which is currently owned by the Ilitch family, is in desperate need of a miracle. The Tigers Tycoon has threatened it with demolition a handful of times, but at this point, it still stands. The building has been secured (for the most part, my shattered heel says otherwise) and it sits empty on the corner of Bagley and Clifford."
 
Check out the full list here.
245 Redevelopment Articles | Page: | Show All
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