Reductive and misleading as the “Detroit is overrun by crumbling buildings” narrative may be, the reality is that there are still many. There have been some high-profile instances of buildings falling apart just in the last couple weeks.
We’ll update you on some of them and focus in particular on how blighted conditions might be putting an Eastern Market affordable housing development at risk. We’ve also got a few updates on some eastside investments, the oft-delayed Wayne County jail and a lack of progress at the planned University of Michigan (U-M) innovation center.
And, we have one question for you. This week, we learned from the Detroit Documenters that the Detroit Department of Transportation doesn’t allow people to carry large bags with them into the restrooms at Rosa Parks Transit Center, a ban defended by the city’s transit police chief because unhoused people want to travel with their “entire household.” We already know benches can be hostile, but are there other Detroit policies or infrastructure you know about that can make things extra difficult for unhoused people? Let us know.
As always, thanks for reading.
>>Looming deadline: The University of Michigan needs to break ground on its Center for Innovation downtown to receive the $100 million earmark it is eligible for in the state’s budget. At a U-M Board of Regents meeting last week, however, it didn’t approve (or even discuss) a development proposal — a necessary step before construction can begin. There are only two regents meetings scheduled before the year-end deadline. The building is expected to cost $250 million and be a workforce hub and satellite campus with technology-focused instruction. (Outlier Media, Detroit Free Press)
>>Spend money to make money: The city celebrated more than $35 million in investments in the East Warren corridor at an event last week. The money has been spent on grants for business, a parking lot that can also function as a public plaza, restoring storefronts, streetscape improvements and upgrading Balduck Park. The Strategic Neighborhood Fund contributed $21 million in an area that includes Morningside, East English Village and Cornerstone Village. The money is spurring on the opening of a bookstore, coffee shop, farmers market and Baobab Fare’s second restaurant. A survey conducted by E. Warren Development Corp. in 2017 found retail occupancy was just under 40%. Today it’s at 55% and the nonprofit hopes to see it rise to 90% in the next five years. A little farther south, the city has tapped the Eastside Community Network to help with the planning process for redeveloping the streetscape of Mack Avenue. (Detroit News, Model D)
Update: This entry summarized a Detroit News article that previously said housing occupancy along the East Warren corridor rose 50 percentage points in the last decade. It was retail buildings that are increasingly occupied. Both the Detroit News article and this entry have been corrected.
>>Justice delayed: Wayne County says delays in opening its Criminal Justice Center in Detroit are straining the county’s resources. It declared a state of emergency at the existing Juvenile Detention Facility in March due to overcrowding and other issues. Dan Gilbert’s firm Bedrock Detroit said it reached “substantial completion” of the facility on Aug. 21, and that it would be ready to open in four to six weeks. However, the county says a number of items still need to be addressed before opening. Bedrock had already missed two deadlines to reach that milestone constructing the almost $609 million center. The county is looking to complete its own move into the complex six months after Bedrock finishes construction. (BridgeDetroit, Freep)
>>Development news quick-hitters: If you want to participate in the community benefits process for Henry Ford Health’s proposed $2.9 billion hospital campus, show up Oct. 3 to University Preparatory Academy High School Ed Parks Campus at 6 p.m. Read more information about the meeting and process… The 195-unit building called the Perennial Corktown on Michigan Avenue is set to open in December. The developer calls the building “elevated” amenity living, and tenants will have access to a fitness center and a 10,000-square-foot pool deck… The Chapel of St. Theresa, the Little Flower (aka St. Patrick’s Church) in Midtown was just demolished. The church was designed by Donaldson & Meier and opened in 1926. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, but its last church service was in 2015. (Crain’s Detroit Business, City of Detroit, Detroit News, Urbanize Detroit)
You’re invited to Outlier Media’s Coffee Thursday! Come hang out with us at In Harmony Café on Oct. 12. 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 a.m. Register now on Eventbrite. We hope to see you there!
City, neighbor losing patience with Eastern Market developer
Develop Detroit has successfully completed a number of affordable housing projects over the last few years. Its big development in Eastern Market, however, hasn’t secured financing, and now buildings at the site are collapsing.
The city and a neighboring business owner both filed lawsuits against Develop Detroit, saying the site is potentially hazardous.
The Del Bene building might get saved after all
The city issued an emergency demolition order for the Del Bene building in Eastern Market after the wall partially collapsed on Sept. 16, injuring one person and causing damage to vehicles. Now, the director of the Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department says the city will consider canceling the order if owner Scot Turnbull can present a viable preservation plan. Turnbull has to submit a proposal by late October. If the plan is approved, he would then have seven days to begin repairs.
Writer and photographer Eric Hergenreder wrote about the history of the Del Bene building, built in 1908. He found that the building’s first owner, the Dueweke Grocery Company, left by 1917. The building’s current name comes from Del Bene Produce, located in the building from the mid-1990s to 2007. Turnbull bought it the same year for $525,000. In 2012, the Detroit real estate investor said he spent $1 million renovating the building.