Living in Detroit

Demand for housing in downtown Detroit and its immediate neighborhoods is so hot that it’s tough to find space.


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As demand to live in Detroit increases and more employers grant incentives to encourage their workers to live in downtown, Midtown, or Corktown, real estate agents are trying their best to find available homes, condominiums, lofts, and apartments.

“There’s an increase in demand nationwide for people who want to live in urban areas,” says Austin Black II, founder and president of City Living Detroit. “I would imagine over the next few years demand will accelerate even more.”

Peggy Schiller, employment and workforce transitions manager at the Detroit Medical Center, explains the incentives. Similar to other programs offered by Henry Ford Health System, Wayne State University, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Detroit Medical Center provides its employees who relocate to a nearby apartment $2,500 in the first year and $1,000 the second year. For those purchasing a condo or home, DMC will offer up to $20,000 over a five-year period. As long as an employee maintains their employment, the DMC will forgive $4,000 each year.

Black says a combination of forces, including the incentives, have impacted the availability of real estate in Detroit. “Because of the demand, the number of properties has gone down … and for certain properties it’s very competitive to get in,” Black says.

Low vacancy isn’t a big issue, Black maintains. “As more people begin moving downtown and the vacancy rate keeps decreasing, that is going to push us to a point where we can have more room for development,” he says.

Next month, the David Broderick Tower in downtown Detroit will open 125 new apartments, along with The Auburn, a loft-style development of 58 apartments at Cass and Canfield in Midtown. In 2014, the neighboring David Whitney Building is projected to open with several dozen apartments, a 136-room Aloft hotel, along with commercial and retail space.

Ed Potas, real estate development and anchor strategy manager for Live: Midtown, says there are new houses available for potential buyers each week, but the program is limited by its funding.

But the positives seem to outweigh the possible negatives. Potas says that the subsidies are not just meant to leverage an economic impact but also “a green impact in the city.”

Potas says so far there are 37 buyers, 154 new renters, 168 renewing renters, or those who already lived or relocated in the district, six renovators and altogether 365 applications completed. “It’s getting crowded,” he says.

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