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Mayor Duggan and developers break ground on Osi Art Apartments in Woodbridge

Oct 15, 2020

  • Half of the 30 apartments in $6.6 million development will be reserved as affordable housing.
  • Osi Art Apartments @ West End is the first project to tap mayor’s new $48 million Detroit Housing for the Future Fund for affordable housing.
  • Black developers George N’Namdi and Roderick Hardamon launch vision for arts and culture district featuring retail, restaurants, moderate-density housing and galleries.

DETROIT – Mayor Mike Duggan, LISC Detroit and Invest Detroit joined developers N’Namdi Holdings and URGE Development Group today to break ground on a new mixed-use project that will bring affordable and market-rate housing to the city’s popular Woodbridge neighborhood. The development is also the first to tap the mayor’s new $48 million Detroit Housing for the Future Fund that helps bridge the financing gap on affordable housing projects in the city.

The artistically inspired Osi Art Apartments @ West End will rise at 3820 Grand River Ave., just west of Trumbull Avenue. Half of its 30 units will be designated as affordable housing for those residents making 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). The four-story building will feature three studio, 25 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments. The 25,000-square-foot development also will feature more than 5,000 square feet of rentable commercial space. It is slated for completion in early 2022.

Renowned gallery owner and art dealer George N’Namdi has set out to create the West End Gallery District that celebrates arts and culture. As home to innovative entrepreneurs, this district will utilize creativity as a driver for sustainable and equitable development. It will feature galleries, retail, restaurants, bars and moderate-density, mixed-use developments with housing.

As a UNESCO Detroit City of Design Neighborhood Partner, N’Namdi and Roderick Hardamon, CEO of URGE, set out to curate a unique space that not only focuses on the social and economic integration of the surrounding neighborhood, but also deliver a property that is an architecturally stunning work of art.

“The Osi Apartments is not only the first new building in the West End Gallery District, but a visually striking gateway that will welcome residents and visitors to what will soon become a local and regional destination,” N’Namdi said. “This project highlights Detroit’s artistic jewels that have always existed throughout the City. Our development acknowledges the rich art and cultural history, bright future and entrepreneurial culture of the city.”

The Osi Art Apartments @ West End will open on Grand River Avenue and Avery Street in 2022 and feature 30 apartments, a gallery and ground-floor retail. Credit: VolumeOne Design Studio

“We wanted to provide a mixed-use, mixed-income property that was both high quality and of high-artistic design,” Hardamon said. “It was important to us, given that Osi is the first development in the West End Gallery District, to provide more than just a great place to live; we wanted to push the envelope and break the mold of new construction in Detroit.”

The Osi project is also the first development to tap the new Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, a public-private partnership aimed at directing $75 million in private capital to affordable housing in Detroit. The fund launched Sept. 29 with an initial capitalization of $48 million, anchored by a $15 million commitment from JPMorgan Chase and a $10 million guarantee from The Kresge Foundation.

“Just two weeks ago, we launched the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, and today we’re already celebrating the first project to take advantage of this unprecedented commitment from our generous financial partners,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “The fund is already doing much of what we had hoped it would: bringing affordable housing to desirable neighborhoods and helping developers of color close the funding gap that previously made such projects unattainable.”

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. worked closely with the Osi development team to enable the activation of a vacant and underutilized site, while at the same time coordinating resources to ensure the project’s financial viability. This includes partnering with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to secure a $1.25 million low-interest loan, leveraging the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for $360,000 in tax increment financing (TIF) reimbursement and helping the developers secure a Commercial Rehabilitation Tax Abatement (PA 210) that reduces property taxes for 10 years.

The rear view of the Osi Art Apartments @ West End, featuring gated parking and community green space. Credit: VolumeOne Design Studio

“This project is special to us because it delivers on so many priorities for the City and for the DEGC, including an affordable housing component,” said DEGC President and CEO Kevin Johnson. “Osi Art Apartments @ West End will enrich Detroit’s art community and further catalyze development in a part of the City that truly deserves it. DEGC is eager work with more minority developers like George N’Namdi and Rod Hardamon who are committed to inclusive, authentic and accessible neighborhoods.”

LISC Detroit supported the project with nearly $4.2 million in financing through DHFF, which LISC manages in concert with the City of Detroit.

“Quality affordable housing — especially when it incorporates space for local entrepreneurs, artists and services providers — catalyzes opportunity in our neighborhoods and helps Detroit families build wealth,” said Tahirih Ziegler, LISC Detroit’s executive director. “This development builds on our city’s rich cultural history. It fuels businesses that create jobs and expands local income, and it ensures that families can anchor their future in a good place to call home. DHFF will be fueling all of those gains, all over the city.”

Invest Detroit provided a $400,000 predevelopment loan, which evolved into a $1.6 million loan to bridge gap financing with the Michigan Community Revitalization Program. The MCRP promotes community revitalization through the provision of grants, loans or other economic assistance for eligible projects located on properties that are either contaminated, blighted, functionally obsolete or historic resources.

“It is imperative that we do more to support black developers across the country and especially in Detroit so that our city’s future is shaped and represented by its residents,” said Keona Cowan, Executive Vice President of Lending. “Invest Detroit was thrilled to support this impressive development team and bring this vacant, blighted building to life.”

“Community development projects like Osi Apartments @ West End are pivotal in helping to create vibrant, sustainable and unique communities across our state,” added Michele Wildman, senior vice president of community development at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “We are pleased to have helped support such an important development in Detroit and wish them continued success.”

The building was designed by Quinn Evans and VolumeOne Design Studio. Lewand Building is the general contractor.

About N’Namdi Holdings

George N’Namdi has been a force in the Detroit area for more than three decades. Dr. N’Namdi and his gallery, The G. R. N’Namdi Gallery on East Forest Avenue, were a catalyst for transforming a formerly derelict area – located on the block bounded by East Forest on the north, Garfield on the south, Woodward on the west and John R on the east – into a thriving arts center and historically designated area called the Sugar Hill Arts District. He co-developed the Sugar Hill Arts District with the development company East Forest Art Project, LLC, with whom he then partnered to develop the N’Namdi Center complex, which houses the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, SEVA restaurant, The Griot Music Lounge, a retail space, a performing arts theater, and an outdoor patio area.

About Urge Development Group

Roderick A. Hardamon (“Rod”), a Detroit native, is the CEO of URGE Development Group, a real estate development and business innovation firm based in Detroit.  URGE is focused on systemic change in urban communities through creative placekeeping and placemaking.  Mr. Hardamon leverages his 20 years of Wall Street experience in strategy, business innovation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and operational transformation to enhance and accelerate each development and business in which he engages. Hardamon has advised on the acquisition and development of over $65 million in real estate transactions, including residential, commercial and office buildings.  In addition, he has invested in and developed over 20 projects, ranging from single-family rehabilitations to mixed-use projects including the OSI Art Apartments.  Formerly, Hardamon was the North America head for Citi Alternative Investment Services and the Global co-head of Mergers and Acquisition for Citi Markets & Banking.


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