Black-owned firm leads redevelopment of historic rowhomes in Hubbard Farms

Construction has begun on The Murray, the block-long redevelopment of historic row homes in Hubbard Farms in Southwest Detroit.

The rowhomes, once abandoned, date to 1917.

"This is not only a project of tremendous importance to the community, but also to me personally," says W. Emery Matthews, co-founder and managing principal of Real Estate Interests, the project developer.

"I was born and raised in Detroit, and I understand the corrosive impact of vacant buildings. They exact an emotional toll and have a profound negative impact on our communities."

The project was made possible with financing from the Detroit Neighborhoods Fund through Capital Impact Partners and the Strategic Neighborhood Fund through Invest Detroit. Real Estate Interests is working in conjunction with Southwest Solutions on the project.

The developer is a Black-owned firm, with Detroit natives Matthews and Stan Edwards its co-founders and managing principals.

"A key component of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund is to support the careers of local, Black developers and increasing their capacity to support long-term, inclusive economic renewal in Detroit," says Keona Cowan of Invest Detroit.

"We are proud to have Emery in our family of developers on this resident-supported project."

The project will redevelop the building into 12 apartments that incorporate the building’s historic elements when possible. The historic façade will be restored. Outdoor patios, gardens, and grilling areas will be added.

Three of the building's 12 units are deemed affordable housing, offered at 60% of the average median income.

The development, estimated to cost $4.57 million, is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

"For me, this is far more than just another real estate investment. It’s a way for the community to showcase its spirit and resilience," Matthews says.

"The Murray is going to positively impact so many lives for the better — not just of those who will live there, but of every single member of the community."

Longtime resident Deb Sumner and her husband, Steve, grew up in Southwest Detroit and raised two kids there, with the fourth generation of Sumners growing up in the family home in Hubbard Farms. The Sumners own rental property in the neighborhood, and Deb says it will be a "happy day" when The Murray is renovated.

"Watching the vacant and blighted building deteriorate more and more each year from 2007 until today, 2020, was very upsetting for all residents," Deb Sumner says.

"We look forward to 'finally' see the historic Murray rowhouses be renovated by Emery Matthews and see life breathed back into this significant building commanding a block," she says, adding it will meet "a need for more desirable living units in HFHD (Hubbard Farms Historic District)."

The Murray is at 4004 Porter St. in Detroit.

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