The City of Detroit and the Detroit Building Authority are currently seeking proposals to redevelop Lee Plaza and Woodland Apartments, two historic apartment complexes with a total of 250 mixed-income units. Developers are required to reserve more than 20 percent of the units in each building for individuals making less than $38,000 annually.
“For years these buildings have been seen as a symbol of our city’s decline. In partnership with developers in the community, they will become examples of the city’s resurgence that is now reaching into more neighborhoods and becoming more accessible to people of all income levels,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “We’ve seen progress in the areas around both Lee Plaza and Woodland Apartments. While these are challenging projects, these buildings can become major anchors in these communities.”
Located in the NW Goldberg Neighborhood near New Center, Lee Plaza (2240 W. Grand Blvd.) was constructed in 1928 as a 15-story, luxury apartment hotel, featuring a concierge and room service. While the building has been vacant since 1997, Lee Plaza’s elaborate architecture makes it ripe for rehabilitation.
The City of Detroit is asking for $295,000 for the building and surrounding land that could be used for additional development, totaling about 1.7 acres. Construction is expected to take two to three years, after which the affordable units would go for about $900 per month.
“This redevelopment is part of our strategy to grow the city in a way that is equitable and includes everyone,” says Arthur Jemison, director of housing and revitalization. “Our goal here is to attract new residents with newly renovated apartments that include affordable rents and retain long-time residents in the area by supporting projects that will spur additional investment and create strong anchors in the neighborhoods.”
The Woodland Apartments building is located in the Gateway Community neighborhood on Woodland Street east of Woodward Avenue, and north of the Boston-Edison Historic District. The four-story, 44-unit building was built in 1923, but has been vacant since the 1990s.
Developers can renovate or demolish the existing property, but more than 20 percent of the total units must be considered affordable at 80 percent of the area median income, which translates to $1,000 for a one-bedroom and $1,200 for a two bedroom. Developers are also encouraged to consider the site for permanent supportive housing for the homeless.
The redevelopment is expected to spur additional investment in the area and bring new projects past Boston-Edison and the adjacent neighborhoods. City officials expect the redevelopment to also take one to three years.
The requests follow a $1.7 million transaction earlier this year with the Detroit Housing Commission (DHC), which transferred Lee Plaza and Woodland Apartments to the Detroit Building Authority, along with 127 single-family properties to the Detroit Land Bank Authority. Though many of the vacant single-family homes cannot be sold under DHC guidelines, the deal adds them to the Land Bank’s auction website. The deal also provides more flexibility to apply for federal and state grants.
Both projects will be encouraged to apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and the city is considering investment in both properties with federal HOME and CDBG funds and other funds from the Housing and Revitalization Department. Given its status on the National Register of Historic Places, Lee Plaza also qualifies for Federal Historic Tax Credits.