Two Downtown Apartment Developments Win Preliminary Approvals

The Griswold

We have known for some time that people who want to live Downtown have found it very difficult to find apartments, and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has taken a step toward meeting that demand. The DDA has voted its preliminary approval of two separate housing developments Downtown. The Roxbury Group earned preliminary approval for The Griswold, an 80-apartment development that would be built directly on top of the parking garage at 150 Michigan Ave., next to the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. Village Green Holding, LLC earned preliminary approval for Statler City, a 200-250 apartment unit that would be built at Washington Blvd. and Park Ave., directly across from Grand Circus Park.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who also chaired the DDA meeting said, “It’s great news that there is strong enough demand to build another 300 or more residential units in our downtown core. This is more evidence that a growing number of people are excited about living in Detroit because they are seeing good things happening.”

The idea for The Griswold was first proposed as a condominium development in 2007. When the housing market collapsed, the project was cancelled. Under the new development agreement, a five-story structure would be built on top of the deck at an estimated cost of $22 million. The 80 housing units will be rental apartments. The agreement anticipates construction could begin this year and be completed in 2015.

Village Green, the developer of the Statler City project is a nationally recognized firm with Detroit roots and projects in 13 states. It recently renovated and renamed Trolley Plaza as Detroit City Apartments and the former Millender Center Apartments as Renaissance City Apartments. It is planning to invest between $30 million and $35 million in the project, build it to meet the National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standards and develop first-floor retail space along Washington Blvd. Parking for tenants would be underground. The developers hope to have the first tenants move in before the end of 2016.

DEGC President and CEO, George W. Jackson, Jr., added, “The revival of The Griswold project clearly shows that Detroit has turned a corner since the housing crash of 2008, and the investment by Village Green in Statler City sends a strong message to developers around the world that this is a great time to invest in Detroit.”

Brian Holdwick
Executive Vice President of Business Development

Jobs and the Downtown Events Center District

georgejackson_lg

One of the primary missions of DEGC is the creation of jobs for Detroit residents, so it naturally is an important consideration in the development of a transformational events center district in Downtown Detroit.

In the concession management agreement (CMA) Detroit Economic Growth Corporation negotiated on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority, Olympia Development agreed to hire Detroit residents as 51% of its construction workforce. That translates to more than 4,000 Detroit jobs as the event center is being built. Olympia also agreed to significant efforts to hire locally to operate the center. For instance, it will “maximize opportunities” to hire Detroit residents and Detroit-based businesses as suppliers. Olympia pledged to provide development and training opportunities and use local Detroit-based workforce training programs for referrals or targeted hiring. And finally, Olympia agreed to review its efforts in these areas with the DDA.

By a majority vote of elected officials, the Detroit City Council decided that those and other community benefit commitments that Olympia Development did make were sufficient, and that the City had adequate measures in place to enforce them. In a good collaboration all parties make concessions to get the deal done, and now it is done.

Furthermore, the jobs created by the event center are important, but are only a portion of the benefits of the total transformation that the Council has approved. As the $200 million of private development proceeds around the center, it will bring in more construction, businesses, and residents in a thriving community that will generate many more opportunities for Detroiters as well. That’s a good trade for $2.9 million in land that is the only asset the City of Detroit had to commit to this deal.

Our negotiations delivered the essentials for a project that will transform Downtown, generate jobs and tax revenues that will benefit the entire city, and make Detroit a must-see destination for fans of sports and entertainment. And we did it by meeting every requirement of the law and the highest ethical standards.

George W. Jackson, Jr.
President and CEO

Major Milestones of 2013

New Center Stamping
New Center Stamping

2013 was a remarkable year for economic development in the city of Detroit — all the more remarkable because municipal government filed for bankruptcy in July. Developments in federal court, however, did not stop important progress on DEGC projects that demonstrate strength in a number of important areas: a vibrant Downtown, rebounding retail development, saving and adding manufacturing jobs, revitalized neighborhood businesses, and implementation of a broad strategic framework for future development. Here are a few examples.

Manufacturing

General Motors is investing $105 million to upgrade its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant that builds Chevy Volts and Malibus. The French automotive supplier Faurecia has invested in the joint venture firm, Detroit Manufacturing Systems, which operates a plant in the Gateway Industrial Center. New Center Stamping is adding jobs as it installs a high-efficiency production line. Sakthi Automotive and Hyundai Mobis are manufacturing automotive components under the same roof in Southwest Detroit. These developments demonstrate that Detroit still has the talent and infrastructure for advanced manufacturing; it also shows the city’s attractiveness to investments from overseas.

Riverfront Residential

Rivertown Phase One is a $55 million dollar mixed use development of 300 apartments and retail storefronts next to the Detroit RiverWalk, Dequindre Greenway and Milliken State Park. It is the first major residential project that specifically takes advantage of those recreational attractions. In doing so, it embodies the vision of the East Riverfront master plan.

Grocery Shopping

Yes, there are excellent choices for grocery shopping in the city. Meijer opened its first ever store in Detroit at Gateway Marketplace, a $62 million shopping center on Detroit’s northern boundary. Whole Foods Market opened its first Detroit store in Midtown, and a number of Detroit’s strong independent grocers have invested in major store improvements. These represent important new choices for Detroit grocery shoppers, especially because they are taking places in neighborhoods around the city. There is still significant work to be done, but 2013 was a huge leap forward.

Fashion

The re-awakening of the Avenue of Fashion along Livernois is well underway thanks to a strong collaboration from community partners, anchor institutions, and a mix of funding support from local and state government and foundations. As permanent and pop-up businesses are opening and artists are creating unique installations, a strong sense of place is returning to this iconic district. And it’s another sign of redevelopment beyond Downtown.

Bicycling and Walking

Biking, running and walking have become hugely popular in Detroit, and DEGC is supporting that trend as a part of a City-led collaboration that is investing $23 million to create designated bike routes crisscrossing Detroit. As part of that project, construction has already begun on a northern extension of the Dequindre Cut Greenway that will connect it to Eastern Market at Wilkins St.

The Arena District

Much more than a big box for hockey, the $650 million of private and public investment in this key part of Downtown will generate a truly unique urban sports, entertainment, residential, retail and office district. The location within a walkable distance to Comerica Park, Ford Field, Masonic Temple Theater, the Fox Theatre, Michigan Opera Theater, Music Hall, The Fillmore and Gem Theater ensures that the district will be lively 365 days a year.

Each of these represents a significant milestone in its own right. Put them together and it is easy to see how far we have come, and how quickly we are moving ahead. As the pace accelerates, it is good that we have a solid planning framework in place in Detroit Future City. As Ken Cockrel joins the leadership team for the DFC Implementation Office (noted in this newsletter), we are in a strong position for a terrific 2014.

George W. Jackson, Jr.
President and CEO

Parsons Brinckerhoff Will Study Alternatives for I-375 Corridor

I-375 project map in Detroit
I-375 project map in Detroit

I-375 — a major gateway to Downtown Detroit is coming due for major repairs soon, so the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Detroit Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are asking the question, “Does the current configuration of I-375 really serve the needs of Detroit today – and into the foreseeable future?”

The opportunity to reconfigure I-375 comes at a time of substantial investments and anticipated development in the central business and waterfront districts, and coincides with the anticipated need for substantial repairs on the bridges over I-375 and other maintenance work in the near future.

The DDA has approved a planning contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff Michigan, Inc. to develop a set of alternatives to the I-375 corridor that connects I-75 to Downtown Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other sources are paying for the $373,000 study, which will require traffic studies, stakeholder input, and developing concepts for five alternatives to the current configuration of I-375 from its intersection with Gratiot Ave. to Atwater St. Parsons Brinckerhoff is also expected to deliver an analysis of each option, including an economic analysis, traffic and environmental impact study and an assessment of the public spaces created by each option.

This was the perfect time to step back and take a look at how this important gateway to Downtown should be developed to serve a revitalized Downtown and East Riverfront. The DDA and MDOT have no pre-conceived ideas about what I-375 should be, just a recognition that whatever we do will have important economic development consequences for decades to come.

Parsons Brinckerhoff is expected to spend the first month conducting research and gathering input from surrounding property owners, community representatives and other stakeholders. The schedule anticipates Parsons Brinckerhoff will present the client group’s preferred alternative no later than July 2014.

Ed Tatem, Michigan President of Parsons Brinckerhoff says, “We are very excited to be responsible for studying traffic, gathering input from all stakeholders — including commuters — and presenting fresh ideas for this significant project.”

Kelby Wallace, MDOT Project Manager says, “The potential to transform this corridor will need to fit the future vision of the city, that is why the study is engaging numerous partners and investigating all options.”

Download additional background information and a PDF map of the I-375 study area in DEGC’s reference library.

Will Tamminga
Senior Project Manager