Take a peek at designs for the new La Joya Gardens development going up on Vernor

What’s happening: A long-vacant block along an otherwise bustling W. Vernor Hwy. will soon become site to La Joya Gardens, a mixed-use development featuring retail and residential space. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Friday, March 31, drawing city officials and community stakeholders to celebrate the new construction.

What it is: La Joya Gardens will rise atop a vacant lot at 4000 W. Vernor Hwy. in Southwest Detroit’s Hubbard Farms Historic District, a 53-unit apartment building with approximately 6,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 1,500 sq. ft. of flexible community space on the ground floor. Designed by Philadelphia-based SITIO Architecture + Urbanism, the $24 million development will feature 47 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments. Four retail storefronts will face a landscaped plaza, and a 500 sq. ft. cafe will be available for rent to local businesses and entrepreneurs.

La Joya Gardens is a Strategic Neighborhood Fund project that will open next year at West Vernor Highway and Hubbard Street in Southwest Detroit. It will feature retail and affordable housing.

Rent check: Of the 53 apartments planned, 42 will be reserved as affordable for those earning 30 to 80 percent of the area median income. According to the City, that means that a one-bedroom apartment could cost as low as approximately $500 per month for qualifying tenants.

Who’s behind it (and how they’re doing it): The Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) and nonprofit financial group Cinnaire have partnered on the development, utilizing a host of funding solutions to ensure affordable housing in the corridor. The La Joya Gardens development is supported through a web of grants, awards, loans, and tax credits from a deep list of partners that include the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, City of Detroit’s Housing & Revitalization Department, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Long time coming: Work on La Joya Gardens began in 2018, when the SDBA and Cinnaire began a six-month series of public outreach events that engaged more than 200 community stakeholders. Participants were polled for preferred design elements, types of business tenants, community services, and more. That work should come to fruition come 2024 when the development is expected to open.

What’s in a name: One component of public outreach included a naming contest, the result of which has now become La Joya Gardens. “La Joya” translates to "The Jewel" from Spanish.

La Joya Gardens will be located at 4000 W. Vernor Hwy. in Detroit.

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.