Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion – Livernois Avenue south of Eight Mile Road – was popular in the 1950s as the city’s prime shopping district, and included shops such as B. Siegel, Sibley’s Shoes and Jacobson’s.
After falling on hard times, the Avenue of Fashion is experiencing new life, and will see a significant multi-use development, thanks to a partnership between JPMorgan Chase, Capital Impact Partners, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Invest Detroit and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC).
On February 15, 2018, shovels dug into the frozen ground to mark work on an $8.3 million project spearheaded by developer Matt Hessler. The plan starts with the redevelopment of three former retail stores into a mixed-use development, which will be called 7.Liv. The project will include 10 residential units—three of which will be affordable at 80 percent of the area median income—as well as 20,500 square feet of commercial storefront space and 29 underground parking spots. The revitalized building will act as a retail anchor and catalyze inclusive economic development along Livernois Avenue.
7.Liv is another exciting example of Detroit’s economic comeback and is particularly welcome as it extends Detroit’s revitalization into the city’s neighborhoods. We see the project serving as a catalyst, enabling other businesses to fill in along the Avenue and create momentum for a new walkable shopping district. Not only will the project invite business investment along Livernois Avenue, it will offer employment opportunities to members of the historical residential neighborhoods of Bagley, Sherwood Forest and University District.
Projects like 7.Liv are important for DEGC because they develop inclusive and equitable spaces in Detroit that benefit both new and long-time residents alike. This project will create a stable anchor of retail that residents need to remain in the area, and draw newcomers that make new investments.
In support of utilizing Detroit-based contractors and employing Detroit residents, Hessler intends to implement benefits that are advanced by the DEGC’s D2D and Skilled Trades Task Force. In fact, the performance of these benefits was proven successful on Hessler’s first Detroit development—the Iconic Building, located on Cass Avenue—which resulted in 27 of the 50 jobs created being held by Detroit residents and three of the four businesses being owned by Detroit natives. DEGC additionally helped Hessler with structuring the financing of the deal and obtaining development incentives.
The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved $1.2 million in tax increment financing for removal of underground storage tanks that needed to be cleared out to make room for a 29-space underground parking garage, mostly for tenants and employees of the retail space along Seven Mile. The DEGC also loaned Hessler $200,000 for residential fixtures in the 10 units, three of which will be priced as affordable units for individuals earning 80 percent of the area median income.
DEGC welcomes the opportunity to partner with public and private organizations to bring projects like 7.Liv to life. As the city continues on an economic upswing, we’re dedicated to ensuring even more development is directed into Detroit’s neighborhoods to benefit the residents of today and tomorrow.