Two Detroit-based developers, Queen Lillian and The Platform, have announced they have broken ground on Woodward West, a $60 million, mixed-use development in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood.
Scheduled to open in summer 2022, the five-story development will offer 204 apartments and nearly 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail to Woodward Avenue and Stimson Place, just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Twenty percent of the apartments will be offered below market rate as affordable housing for those with qualifying incomes at 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). The site, located at 3439 Woodward Avenue, was at one time projected to be the new home of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, but the deal was never consummated.
To transform one of the last large vacant parcels along Woodward in Midtown, Queen Lillian and The Platform have assembled a core project team of Detroit-based talent, including Hamilton Anderson Associates as architect and interior designer, Sachse Construction as general contractor, Skidmore Studio as brand strategist, Center City Properties as property manager; and Honigman as tax incentive consultant.
Michigan-based companies working on the development include OHM Advisors as civil engineer, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss as legal counsel, SME for environmental services, and Strategic Energy Solutions as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer.
“We are proud that this is a project not only for Detroit, but built, designed, and managed almost entirely by Detroit-based companies,” says James Jenkins Jr., co-principal and partner of Queen Lillian. “We believe that as Detroit continues its comeback that Detroit-based businesses should be leading that charge.”
The start of construction comes less than a year after The Platform opened The Boulevard at Third Avenue and West Grand Boulevard in New Center, the first major new construction residential development in New Center in more than a generation.
“The strong leasing at The Boulevard, even amid the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrates the demand for more new housing and retail in our city,” says Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of The Platform, which also owns the Fisher Building and the Albert Kahn Building.
“Woodward West will bring centrally located housing to Detroiters and much-needed retail space to the Woodward Corridor in Midtown. We are proud to work with the Queen Lillian team to make this catalytic development a reality.”
The Woodward West team said it engaged with the community throughout the development process, meeting with residents, business owners, property owners, developers, and nonprofit stakeholders to receive feedback on the project before finalizing construction and design.
“Woodward West will ultimately serve as a great example of how development can be done while still maintaining inclusion and diversity,” said Christopher Jackson, co-principal and managing partner of Queen Lillian. “Further, we are proud that we are not displacing an existing neighborhood but, in fact, working with the existing neighborhood to bring quality, affordable housing and retail offerings to the community.”
Earlier this summer, the Woodward West team partnered with the Michigan Minority Contractors Association to host an on-site event for potential trade partners, as well as with the DEGC to host a virtual session, seeking everything from drywallers and flooring installers to painters and plumbers. More than 65 tradespeople turned out between both events.
“Woodward West is a great example of how we are rebuilding our city in a way that includes everyone,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “Not only are we seeing one of the last major vacant parcels on Woodward in Midtown being developed with more affordable housing, the project is being led almost entirely by Detroit-based businesses with two major black development partners in Jim Jenkins and Chris Jackson.”
Situated on nearly 1.9 acres, Woodward West will offer an outdoor roof deck with views of downtown Detroit, a theater, a fitness center and wellness studio, a sauna, a business center, a pet wash station, bike storage, electric car charging ports, and more.
Amenities such as the mailroom, package room, and bike storage have been conveniently located off the main entries for quick access. The combination of the fitness center and wellness studio provides a limitless amount of exercise activities and will be set facing the street, while lounge areas designed with TVs, fireplaces, and kitchenettes have been located across multiple levels to encourage a sense of community among tenants.
The primary corner is emphasized at Woodward West with an emphasis of a two-color urban palette, texture, and dramatic balconies. The unit types range from studios to two-bedrooms and have been programmed to maximize natural sunlight, space efficiency, and storage.
The kitchens are designed with a high-contrast modern aesthetic and Energy Star appliances. The bathrooms will have spacious showers and tubs with black finish fixtures.
The development prioritizes environmental sustainability with an underground stormwater retention system, low-flow toilets and kitchen and bath fixtures, all-LED lighting, a central boiler system instead of individual hot water heaters, and recycling, as well as native plants along the site’s perimeter. The unit designs maximize space-efficiency within the building, reducing overall building footprint and square footage.
In addition to offering commercial spaces to a neighborhood that is underserved with retail options, a portion of the retail space will be reserved as “entrepreneur space” for up-and-coming businesses. The team will also engage local artists to commission artwork for the project.
The transit-oriented development also offers connectivity to the city for its residents. There will be space for 140 bikes and electric vehicle charging stations. It will feature 84 on-site surface parking spaces with additional off-site parking available at a nearby, existing parking structure.
The site is located near Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, sports stadiums, theaters, and more.
The development includes support of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which recently approved a Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan of $5.3 million, and the Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit (EDC) through the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which has approved a loan for $2.2 million.
Rounding out the capital stack is CIBC Bank, the senior lender. In the project’s early predevelopment stages, Capital Impact Partners and Invest Detroit also provided loans to move the project forward.
“Woodward West is a great example of MEDC’s commitment to transforming underutilized properties into vibrant, attractive and resilient places to live, work and play,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We’re pleased to work with the many partners who brought this project to fruition, and we look forward to its momentum and the additional investment it will encourage in Midtown Detroit.”