Detroit’s economic revival

Frank Provenzano

Friday, October 2, 2015

A sampling of the projects supported by MEDC in the ongoing economic revival of Detroit

With a range of new developments and last November’s conclusion of Detroit’s bankruptcy – the largest municipal restructuring of debt in U.S. history – the city has become highly attractive to investors around the world. The economic and physical landscape of Detroit is being transformed. Few other times in recent history has the prospects for the city looked so promising.

Expanding entertainment district

A key part of the Events Center Project is the Michigan Strategic Fund’s authorization of a $450 million issuance of private activity bonds to finance construction of the new entertainment and commercial district in Detroit. The Events Center Project will be owned by the city of Detroit's Downtown Development Authority and operated by Olympic Development of Michigan Events Center LLC.  

The multi-purpose venue will be the new home for the Detroit Red Wings on Woodward Avenue, approximately four blocks north of the Fox Theatre and Comerica Park. The district surrounding the proposed 18,000-seat, 650,000 square-foot ice arena is expected to generate another $200 million of investment in new bars, restaurants, housing and a potential hotel. 

Total construction and construction-related jobs created by the project are estimated at 8,300. Approximately 1,100 permanent jobs will be created once the Events Center opens in fall 2017. 

Attracting residents: Key to Detroit’s revival is the availability of affordable, attractive housing. Two residential developments, the $61 million Orleans Landing and the $38.5 million Du Charme Place, will create 463 low-rise units in what has been a downtrodden area along the Detroit riverfront.  

The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will use local and school tax capture in the amount of $4,759,351 for the redevelopment of Du Charme Place, located on East Lafayette Street in the city of Detroit. In addition, the MSF approved $5.7 million in Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based equity support for the project.  

Meanwhile, the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received approval of local and school tax capture in the amount of $6,495,862 for the redevelopment of Orleans Landing project located at Franklin and Orleans streets in Detroit. The MSF also approved $7.61 million in Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based equity support for the project and re-authorized a Brownfield Michigan Business Tax Credit in the amount of $6,983,874.

The Michigan Community Revitalization Program approved a $3.5 million equity contribution, labeled a performance-based incentive, to Strathmore Apartments Limited Dividend Housing Association LLC to redevelop the derelict Strathmore Hotel at 70 W. Alexandrine Street in Midtown. The University Cultural Center Association, a subsidiary of Midtown Detroit Inc., is a co-applicant on the grant. 

The $28.4 million investment, which includes converting the eight-story hotel into 129 one- and two-bedroom apartments, is expected to create three full-time jobs and one part-time job. 

Attracting visitors/tourists

Twenty-three hotels comprising 2,160 rooms are in the development pipeline in Detroit, including the 100-room independent boutique hotel in the former Detroit Fire Department headquarters. New hotel projects include a $1 million grant to support the redevelopment of the Milner Hotel (near Comerica Park), and a grant to Ashley Owner LLC to complete the $8.2 million redevelopment of the Milner, transforming the property once owned by the Ilitch family into 61 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The project is expected to create 10 full-time and 30-part time jobs, according to the MEDC. 

Mass transit advances: Michigan Strategic Fund provided funds for the construction of the M-1 rail, a 3.3-mile passenger rail system along Woodward Avenue. Eleven stops along the transit line will connect bus routes, Detroit People Mover, and Amtrak along key business/university/cultural/shopping districts, offering efficient transport through the core of downtown. 

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $130 to $140 million and create up to 41 new permanent jobs. As a result, the project has been awarded a $10 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based loan.

Historic renovation

Since the mid-December reopening of the city’s historic David Whitney Building, residents, shoppers and tourists have been attracted to the $82-million renovation, which includes a boutique hotel, restaurants, bars, retail and apartments. The renovation project received a $1 million grant from the MEDC’s Community Revitalization Program, and a $7.5 million performance-based loan.

Cultivating culture: MEDC selected Midtown Detroit Inc.’s Green Alley Project on Selden & Second as the Public Spaces Community Places pilot project. Midtown Detroit is working with Patronicity to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding to transform the 415-foot-long alley bound by Second Ave., Selden, the Third Ave. Alley, and Alexandrine. Alley enhancements will include a new design to promote walkability and community connectivity and green infrastructure upgrades to reduce the storm water burden on the city’s combined sewer system.

The total cost of the project is $200,000. Detroit-based Shinola has contributed a $100,000 grant. When the project met its crowdfunding goal, MEDC provided a matching grant of $50,000. (NOTE:

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