Hey everyone,

We reported in April (with BridgeDetroit) that eastside residents were complaining traffic coming to and from the Stellantis factory was ruining their neighborhood and that public officials weren’t doing enough to monitor the problem. A road redesign plan being considered by the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority might slightly ease traffic near those residential streets — or make it much much worse. This week, we write about the automaker’s road plan riling up residents and local businesses. 

Plus, read about a mysterious public authority that’s been holding up the biggest development in Detroit’s recent history, as well as a rare new house about to be built in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.

If you want more info on public transit, Daily Detroit also had us on the podcast to talk about our story from last week.

As always, thanks for reading.

The Dirt

>>What’s new is old: Indian Village is about to see construction begin on the neighborhood’s first new home in more than 20 years. The historic neighborhood sees so little new infill in part because there aren’t many undeveloped lots, but also because building in a historic district can be cumbersome and expensive. Builders have to get a number of approvals for design elements to make sure they’re compatible with the character of homes in the neighborhood. They also have to get input from the community and Historic District Commission — all of which can add months (and $$$) to a project. Budgets in historic districts can be 10-15% higher when owners have to build with wood and according to period-specific roofing materials and colors. (Crain’s Detroit Business)

>>Agenda items: Detroit City Council will have its first meeting in more than a month on Sept. 5. What will council members’ priorities be when they return to session? Council President (and potential mayoral candidate) Mary Sheffield is still searching for ways to compensate homeowners who were overtaxed over the last decade, Councilmember Mary Waters is looking to rename Hart Plaza after Martin Luther King Jr., and Councilmember Gabriela Santiag-Romero wants to provide more regulation around fugitive dust and idling trucks, to name a few. (Detroit Free Press).

>>A mystery authority: Ever heard of the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority? Neither had Detroit Documenters before it learned the public body is delaying the groundbreaking for District Detroit. The authority owns land near Comerica Park where developers want to construct the project’s first building. Documenters Coordinator Noah Kincade tried to get more information about it, but found the authority has practically no footprint online despite owning land in the city’s central business district and issuing bonds. The authority canceled meetings the last three months and has one scheduled for Sept. 7 — Documenters will be there to cover it and hopefully get answers to their questions about this mysterious body. (Outlier Media, Detroit Free Press)

>>Unique approach to affordable housing: As most parts of the country disinvest from their public housing portfolios, Montgomery County in Maryland is taking in a different direction and building more. The county just outside Washington, D.C., is building thousands of income-restricted units by partnering with private developers but retaining majority ownership to ensure they remain affordable. The county’s housing commission created a $100 million fund for the effort by selling bonds, which it uses to loan itself money. Units tend to go to households making 50-70% of the area median income. (New York Times)

Ready to see meaningful, actionable change in Detroit? This week Outlier launched our membership program, The Outlier Collective, were like-minded Detroiters can attend events, volunteer, and collaborate with us. Join now!

You’re invited to Outlier Media’s Coffee Thursday, this Thursday (Aug. 31) at The Gathering Coffee Company! The first 20 guests will receive a free brewed coffee or tea of their choice. Stop by and chat with us from 9:30-10:30 am. We hope to see you there!

Dig This

Will Stellantis’ road redesign help or hurt residents?

View from above of a large white warehouse. Dozens of semi-trucks are parked next to the white building and around the property.
Hundreds of trucks pass through the warehouse on Freud Street every day. Photo credit: Aaron Mondry

Residents on the eastside say they’re inundated with truck traffic from Stellantis’ factory off Jefferson Avenue. The automaker would like even more.

In a traffic study from 2021 recently made public, Stellantis requested approval to increase the number of trucks traveling to and from a nearby warehouse on Freud Street from 468 to 2,484 per day — an increase of about 500%. The City of Detroit said it won’t approve that level of traffic but also hasn’t been forthcoming about updated traffic estimates.

Dig Deeper

Tunnel vision

If you live in Southeast Michigan, chances are you were affected in some way by last week’s heavy rains. You may have been among the hundreds of thousands of households that lost power or were forced to change commutes because of street and freeway closures.

Hopefully you didn’t miss your flight. The heavy rains also caused flooding in a tunnel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport that blocked the road leading to the McNamara Terminal, preventing travelers from entering or exiting the terminal for hours. Dozens of flights were delayed or canceled. 

The fiasco left some wondering/yelling about why cars or (a few) buses are the only way to reach one of the more important international travel hubs in the Midwest. 

The only way to get to the airport from Detroit by public transit is with SMART’s FAST route on Michigan Avenue. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) of Southeast Michigan is looking to start an express route from Detroit to the airport in spring 2024. It would run on the freeway and have fewer stops, taking about 30 minutes as opposed to the FAST line which takes about an hour. Good news for travelers, but those routes will still be affected by all the infrastructure problems that affect metro Detroit roads.

The RTA is looking to update its master plan and have it approved in early 2024. At the moment, there are no plans to add a rail line leading to the airport, no matter how much transit Twitter pines for it. The RTA did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. 

One Good Building

Saving Grace

A church with bricks painted gray and a single prominent steeple. The large arched windows are boarded up with white plywood.
Ford Motor Co. recently bought St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church. Photo credit: Helmut Ziewers/HistoricDetroit.org

Apparently 1873 was a banner year for churches. Last week, we highlighted a Detroit church that opened that year. We’re doing the same this week.

Ford Motor Co. has bought a former church in Corktown, along with a couple other properties, for $1.5 million. The building sits in the footprint of Michigan Central Station where the automaker hopes to finish a major restoration in the next few months. 

Ford bought the church from Assemble Sound, a Detroit-based record label and management company that said it wasn’t able to finance rehabilitation costs. Ford said it would renovate the steeple in the near future as part of a broader preservation effort, though final programming for the building hasn’t been determined. 

St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church was designed by Carl Schmidt in a German Gothic style. Two other congregations occupied the church before it was abandoned in 2009. Assemble Sound purchased it six years later in 2015.

This article was changed after publication. The express bus to the airport is now anticipated in spring of 2024, not by the end of the year, according to the Regional Transit Authority.

Aaron (he/him) believes in telling true stories about real people. He doesn’t think there’s anything better than a crisp fall afternoon at the Detroit Jazz Fest.