Bloomfield Hills-based Method Development has acquired five properties in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood. Construction on a $20-million, mixed-use redevelopment project is slated to begin in 2020.
The deal closed in February, and the properties total more than 101,000 square feet on 1.76 acres. The plan is one of the first major Opportunity Zone projects in Detroit. Opportunity Zones were created under new federal tax laws that provide benefits to investors who reinvest capital gains income into development in designated areas across the U.S.
The site is located north of Wayne State University and northwest of where I-75 and I-94 intersect.
“We love the Motor City, and we’re excited to help breathe new life into this up-and-coming neighborhood,” says Amelia Patt Zamir, who co-founded Method in 2014 with Rakesh Lala. “Milwaukee Junction, with its rich automotive and music history, is reemerging as an epicenter of Detroit’s cultural corridor.
“Our project reinforces East Grand Boulevard as ‘a gateway to Detroit’ and embraces the groundwork laid by earlier urban pioneers and longtime residents. We aim to enhance the quality of life in the area by offering more amenities and economic opportunities.”
The Rusas Printing Building at 6540 St. Antoine is a four-story, 56,000-square-foot light manufacturing building that was built in 1929. Its two-story first level will be turned into an event space, and the upper two floors, which are in raw condition, will be turned into office space. Method Development will relocate its headquarters to the building.
The Maurice Fox Building at 2863 E. Grand Blvd. will be transformed into 20 industrial-style lofts with retail on the ground floor. The three-story, 24,700-square-foot building is a former Ford Motor Co. sales and service station.
Next door, 2857 E. Grand Blvd. will be renovated for a future restaurant, possibly with a rooftop deck. It is a single-story, 5,700-square-foot building adjoining the Maurice Fox Building.
A groundbreaking for these three buildings will take place in early 2020, marking phase one of the project.
Phase two will transform 2871 and 2881 E. Grand Blvd., which are a former used auto shop and sales yard and a structure that once housed a gasoline service station, respectively, into a mix of residential units and ground-floor retail space.
“We are supporting the city’s goal of creating density by adding a significant number of residential units in a neighborhood that thrives on inclusion and artistic expression,” says Lala. “There’s an exciting dynamic at work here as creative energy pulses through relics of the area’s industrial manufacturing past. We are taking a preservation-first approach with our Milwaukee Junction project, restoring the properties’ unique architectural features wherever possible.”
Method is working on two other development projects in Detroit, including Erskine Haus at 304 Erskine in Brush Park, a mansion built in the 1920s that is being transformed into residential housing, as well as a 24-unit multi-family development in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood.