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21 reuse / rebuild Articles | Page: | Show All

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)

Washington Post examines 'unconventional' fixes for Detroit's unconventional housing market

 
From low appraisals to a dearth of conventional mortgage lending to a glut of supply (often in desperate need of renovation), Detroit's housing market faces a slew of issues that make it one of the most challenged and unusual in the country.
 
So how do you "restore a functional housing market in a city in which neighborhoods are disappearing, banks aren’t lending and property values are among the lowest in the nation?" That's the question the Washington Post asks in a recent feature story.
 
What they found in Detroit is that unusual circumstances are being met with unusual measures to prop up housing values throughout the city.
 
"Civic and business leaders are targeting eight neighborhoods that they determined have the best chance of turning around," writes the Post's Kathy Orton. "To clear out the inventory of vacant houses, the city is moving aggressively to demolish structures that are beyond repair and auction ones that are salvageable."
 
Read more about efforts to restore the weak housing market in Detroit's neighborhoods in the Washington Post.

Packard Plant developer outlines grand plans for Detroit

Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo made big headlines in 2013 when he purchased the long-abandoned Packard Plant on Detroit's east side. The property, which consists of 47 buildings and spans 40 acres, is perhaps the most daunting re-development project in all of the city of Detroit, which is saying a lot. Nonetheless, Palazuelo appears to be moving forward with plans for the massive ruin. According to Crain's Detroit Business, he has retained an architecture firm (Albert Kahn Associates) and a general contractor (O'Brien Construction Co.) to begin work on the rehab of a 150,000-sq-ft administrative building on the Packard property.

According to the same Crain's piece, however, those plans represent only a fraction of Palazuelo's Detroit ambitions:

"[Palazuelo] said in an interview with Crain's last week that he plans to make offers to buy five of greater downtown's most storied buildings: the 255,000-square-foot Book Tower and adjoining 260,000-square-foot Book Building; the 996,000-square-foot Penobscot Building; and the Albert Kahn Building and Fisher Building in the New Center Area, which total 925,000 square feet."

The Peruvian developer claims that he has the backing of a Lima-based private equity firm with over $500 million in assets.

Read more about Palazuelo's Detroit plans in Crain's Detroit Business.

Mayor Duggan sites 20 to 40 percent affordable housing goal in downtown, Midtown areas


The Detroit Free Press's John Gallagher reported last week that Mayor Mike Duggan's administration is pushing developers who are receiving public subsidy for projects to set aside 20 to 40 percent of new units for lower-income renters.
 
The Free Press quotes Duggan saying:

"We are, on a project-by-project basis, going to negotiate as much as we can commensurate to our contribution, but I would like to see 20% to 40% affordable housing mix in everything that we support because great cities include everybody.
 
"As we rebuild the housing in this city, we're going to make sure everybody can live there."
 
Duggan's comments were made at a media event celebrating the coming renovation of the vacant Strathmore Hotel building on Alexandrine in Midtown, where 40 percent of the housing units will be reserved for low-income renters.
 
The mayor's comments come in the midst of an ongoing conversation about gentrification in Detroit, particularly its downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, which have experienced a remarkable uptick in new residential and commercial developments in recent years.
 
Read more in the Detroit Free Press.
 

Brooklyn's Galapagos Art Space to make new home in Detroit, buys property in Cortown, Highland Park


Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, apparently, is a really big deal. So big, in fact, that the New York Times referred to it in a Dec. 7 article as "a performance center and cultural staple in Brooklyn for nearly 20 years."
 
But Galapagos's tenure in NYC is drawing to a close, its last day of programming scheduled for Dec. 18. But that doesn't mark the end of Galapagos's existence. According to the art space's website, Galapagos is moving.
 
"After nearly 7,500 programs and just over 1,000,000 audience members through our doors, Galapagos Art Space is moving to Detroit," writes Galapagos's executive director Robert Elmes.
 
Elmes is giving up on New York because "Simply put, New York City has become too expensive to continue incubating young artists. The white-hot real estate market burning through affordable cultural habit is no longer a crisis, it's a conclusion.
 
In Detroit, Elmes hopes his art space can take advantage of the three ingredients he feels are necessary for a creative ecosystem to flourish: time, space, and people. Elmes believes that Detroit has both time and space in abundance and that the city "is gaining its critical third component - artists - at an astonishing rate."
 
Galapagos's new website, galapagosdetroit.com, claims that the arts space has already secured over 600,000 square feet of real estate in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood and the enclave city of Highland Park "for the price of a small apartment in New York City." According Galapagos's Detroit website, one of the properties is the old Highland Park High School and Junior College building located between Second and Third avenues on Glendale (For an incredibly detailed history of that building, check out this profile from Detroit Urbex.), and another is a vacant manufacturing facility located at 1800 18th Street.

In an interview with Crain's Detroit Business, Elmes says, “We are not coming with $60 million to $90 million. We are there to build a venue and build studios and some lofts. As that gains traction, we’ll add more parts to the whole and that’s the goal of the project.” 
 
The website also makes two bold promises: 1) one of Galapagos's properties will feature a 10,000-square-foot man-made lake, and 2) the art space will host a 2016 Detroit Biennial. (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is currently hosting its "People's Biennial" through 2015.)
 
Galapagos will join 333 Midland as the second prominent art space to locate in Highland Park in recent years.
 
The news of Galapagos's relocation occurs in the midst of Berlin electronic music label and club owner Dimitri Hegemann's repeated expressions of interest in creating a venue for electronic music performances and entrepreneurship in one of Detroit's vacant factory spaces.
 
Model D will continue to follow all of these stories as they develop.

Detroit man claims he's the high bidder on $3M bundle of 6,350 properties in county auction

As the Wayne County Treasurer's annual auction of tax-foreclosed properties winds down -- or up, depending on who you ask -- information has emerged on what might become the largest purchase of tax-forclosed property in the history of the auction.

According to the Detroit News, Herb Strather of Detroit is claiming to be the leader of a group of investors who bid over $3 million on a bundle of 6,350 of properties in the city. The bundle represents over one third (and the most dilapidated, at that) of the over 18,000 properties available in this year's auction, the largest of its kind in the world.

According to The News:
 
"Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz, in collaboration with Mayor Mike Duggan, bundled the properties in hopes of discouraging tax deadbeats. If no buyer came forward, the Detroit Land Bank was expected to take the homes, demolish the rundown ones and auction those that are salvageable to qualified bidders."

The minimum bid for the bundle of properties was set at $3.175 million. Currently a single bid of $3,183,500 has been placed. While the county will not reveal the identity of the high bidder until after the auction, Strather has claimed to be the person who placed the bid.

The News writes:

"About 2,000 of the properties in the bundle are vacant lots and 3,000 need to be razed, said Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. Another 1,000 are considered salvageable homes."

For more information, visit the Detroit News.

Video: The case for historic preservation, not just demolition, in Detroit's war on blight

Last week, Mayor Mike Duggan and other dignitaries celebrated the city's efforts to remediate blight in conjunction with the demolition of a 19th century warehouse building on Fort Street. The building was demolished at the expense of its owner, the powerful Detroit International Bridge Co., which is controlled by the Moroun family.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Mayor Duggan praised the Bridge Co., saying, "If you’ve got a vacant commercial building in this town and you don’t have the ability to reuse it, we need you to step up and knock it down...We are going to need the business community to do what the Moroun family is doing here."

Yet the decision to tear down this structure was met by the skepticism of some who felt the building's historical and architectural significance and potential for redevelopment warranted its preservation. 

Blight and vacancy -- of land and buildings -- are two of Detroiters' greatest concerns when it comes to the livability of their neighborhoods. It's undeniable that Detroit has myriad structures that require demolition; yet demolition is not the only solution to Detroit's blight and vacancy problems.

In this video, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network argues that historic preservation and adaptive reuse are key elements to redevelopment efforts in the city.

In the words of Jerry Esters, preservation advocate and owner of the repurposed auto shop that Practice-Space calls home, "I can take you and show you buildings that have been refurbished and they're much nicer than seeing a vacant field."

Source: Michigan Historic Preservation Network

Two national urban experts criticize Detroit's demolition plans

Two national figures widely considered experts on urban issues have weighed in on a local taskforce's recommendation to spend $850 million to demolish blighted structures in the city of Detroit. Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Andres Duany, an architect and founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism, both wrote short letters to the editor of the New York Times suggesting that Detroit think beyond demolition when addressing its blight problem.

Meeks suggests that preservation ought to play an important role in Detroit's attempt to reinvent itself.

"Preservationists understand that demolition must be part of the strategy for Detroit's future," she says, "but we need to ensure that the city's most important historic buildings are spared so they can become building blocks for the future."

Duany sees more value in funding young entrepreneurs than he does in spending $850 million on demolition.

"At $50,000 each there would be 17,000 loans or grants possible. Detroit would explode with activity and success. Its emerging reputation as the 'next Broolyn' would be fullfilled, even more quickly," he says.

Read both op-eds in the New York Times.
 

Detroit Future City to host "Blight Bootcamp"

On the heels of the release of the most comprehensive data set ever on blight in the city of Detroit, Detroit Future City (DFC) is hosting its first ever "Blight Bootcamp."

This Saturday at Wayne County Community College District's Downtown Campus (1001 W. Fort St.), DFC is putting on a series of free workshops that will equip ordinary citizens with tools to address blight in their neighborhoods. Sessions include:

Transforming Blight into Gardens and Farms
Securing Vacant Properties
Community Art to Fight Blight
Green Space Solutions
Blight Mitigation Resources
Data Driven Decision Making
Blight and Public Health
Resident Led Neighborhood Safety
Deconstruction vs. Demolition
Repurposing Commercial Vacancies
Youth Engagement in Blight Mitigation
Advocating for your Neighborhood

Those interested in attending Blight Bootcamp can register here.

Visit Detroit Future City's website for more information.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative intern to live in city's first shipping container house

A lucky intern at the nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative will become the first person to inhabit a house made from a shipping container, reports the Detroit News.

The container is currently being converted into occupiable housing in the parking lot of General Motor’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. Once completed, it will be moved to Michigan Urban Farming Initiative's headquarters on Brush Street in New Center.

The nonprofit purchased the container for $3,000, but estimates that it will cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to convert it into a home. According the News, "Local GM workers will volunteer to convert the container into a home and 85 percent of the materials will be scrap from local GM plants."

Read more in the Detroit News.

Another green alley coming to Midtown

"Another Green Alley." No, we're not talking about a new album by Brian Eno. We're talking about a transformation coming to the alleyway between Cass Ave. and 2nd Ave and Willis and Canfield Streets. The alley's cracked concrete will be replaced with brick pavers and green infrastructure. 

According to Midtown Detroit, Inc. the Alley's transformation will begin later this month.

This will be Midtown's second green alley. The first is located between Prentis and Canfield off of 2nd Ave.

Source: Curbed Detroit

Read more here.

Link Detroit, extension of Dequindre Cut, set to begin construction

Our friends at Mode Shift Move Together updated a story near and dear to us: the extension of the greenway that currently cuts through the near East Side from the riverfront to Gratiot, just south of Eastern Market.

An excerpt:

To start with, Eastern Market will be getting a major upgrade. The street curbs on Russell Street will be lined up in a consistent manner, and the area will be spruced up with trees and greenery. In addition, new bike parking structures will be installed at the district's main parking lot and at the corner of Russell and Wilkins.

The market will also feature easy access to the Dequindre Cut, a below-street level biking and walking path built on an old railroad line in downtown Detroit, which will be extended as part of the project. Currently, it runs from Woodbridge Street near the Milliken State Park at the riverfront to Gratiot Avenue. The extension will take it a mile north to Mack Avenue. Three bridges spanning the Cut will also be repaired and another taken down.

Read more here.

Curbed Detroit: Palmer Park rises again

We love Palmer Park. The residential buildings, the accessability of nearby Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest, the Avenue of Fashion and other leafy neighborhoods. Not to mention the lovely green space itself.

Curbed Detroit updates impressive work being done on the apartment houses here.

Open house at 71 Garfield previews new classes

Sugar Hill Clay first opened in 2011. Located in the lower level of the renovated 71 Garfield building in Midtown Detroit, the studio is about as "green" as a ceramic studio can get. The work tables, shelving, cabinetry and countertops were all constructed from reclaimed wood and operate on a combination of geo-thermal energy that is generated in our building and a 20-kilowatt solar array.  
 
Sugar Hill Clay is currently undergoing a lot of changes in operations.
 
New classes begin in August. Including: Intro to wheel throwing, which is covers the fundamentals of wheel thrown pottery; a handbuilding class focused on tableware; an Altered Pots class that combines wheel throwing and handbuilding techniques to create new and more complex forms; and "Playing with fire: Raku" which will cover a range of clay projects with a special focus on Raku firing. All adult classes include open studio hours so students may come in at their leisure to work on their projects outside of class. 
 
There is also "Adventures in Clay" for the kids. This class is for children ages 6-12, and will explore many techniques from handbuilding to surface decoration, and the chance to play on the potter's wheel for those interested. The kids will have the opportunity to make functional pots, as well as sculptural pieces. 
 
In addition to the classes, Sugar Hill Clay can be booked for private parties and events.
 
Things are kicking off with an open house this Friday, July 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. Tour the studio, meet the instructors, learn about new classes, and have the opportunity to play with some clay. Light refreshments will be served and a free class will be given away to one lucky attendee.
 
For more information, go here.


Detroit Archdiocese relocates to Capitol Park

There are a couple of promising developments in one move here: Capitol Park gets an anchor tenant in the Archdiocese of Detroit; and its vacated properties -- most spectacular among them the gorgeous Chancery bilding on Washington Blvd, adjacent to St. Aloysius church -- are being put on the market. The Freep got the story first but Curbed got the pictures.

Take a look here.
21 reuse / rebuild Articles | Page: | Show All
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