Original Lincoln Motor Factory in Detroit to Become Affordable Housing

Recycle Here, a recycling center in Detroit, Thursday announced plans to convert its facilities — an auto-plant-turned-recycling-center — into a mixed-use development with affordable housing and 38,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The recycling operation will remain on the building.
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Dreamtroit rendering
Dreamtroit, a mixed-use development with affordable housing, is expected to open in early 2022 in Detroit. // Rendering courtesy of Dreamtroit

Recycle Here, a recycling center in Detroit, Thursday announced plans to convert its facilities — an auto-plant-turned-recycling-center — into a mixed-use development with affordable housing and 38,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The recycling operation will remain on the building.

The $20 million project, known as Dreamtroit, will transform the 3.8-acre campus at 1331 Holden St. into an 81-unit development that will include a market and restaurant. The goal is to create a space that is home to art and allows for creatives to gather.

Of the units, 17 will be reserved for households at or below 50 percent area median income, 41 percent at 80 percent area median income, and the remaining below the workforce housing level of 120 percent area median income.

The apartments will feature 13-foot ceilings and large industrial windows. They will come in loft units including one-bedroom, two-bedroom, studio, and studio with communal kitchen options. Other amenities include an indoor event space, a workshop, a coffee shop, and on-site parking. The renovation is expected to be completed in early 2022.

Matt Naimi and Oren Goldenberg took on the project, saying their goal is to protect the arts community as rents rise across Detroit.

“We believe it is the people and the culture that push our city into the future,” says Naimi, founder of Recycle Here. “For the past 12 years, we have been bringing people together

through public programming, public space, environmentalism, and art. We are ensuring that the working class, artists, and innovators will continue to have a home and a platform to build the next generation of Detroit’s cultural and technological revolution, while offering affordable housing to those who make Detroit such a unique and creative place.”

Recycle Here is a recycling organization that has been operating in Detroit for 15 years. As part of the development, it will move to the Lincoln Street side of the property. The improved recycling operation will have a new drop-off center, programming, and educational opportunities.

“We believe we should be able to live affordably in the city of Detroit and be entrenched in the amazing culture of our city,” Goldenberg says. “This project is about reimagining old structures in new ways and contributing to Detroit’s reinvention of itself and its icons.”

Included in the project is the Lincoln Street Art Park, which has hosted art and social events since its creation in 2011. Make Art Work, the nonprofit that runs the park and its programming, will be in charge of the interactivity and beautification of Dreamtroit.

Dreamtroit is located near the Motown Museum, which is undergoing a $50 million expansion, and the College for Creative Studies. It is within walking distance of the Fisher Building, Wayne State University, and New Center-area bars and restaurants. It is four miles north of downtown.

In late February, the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund closed on $2.26 million in financing commitments for Dreamtroit. The investment fund is working to direct $75 million in capital to affordable housing in Detroit and launched in October with an initial capitalization of $48 million, anchored by a $15 million commitment from JPMorgan Chase and a $10 million guarantee from The Kresge Foundation.

The fund is managed by LISC Detroit and part of the larger Affordable Housing Leverage Fund, which is a partnership with city of Detroit’s housing and revitalization department. Dreamtroit is the third project to be announced since the fund launched.

The funding for the deal involved a number of financial partners including Invest Detroit, Capital Impact Partners, IFF, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and historic tax credits.

The property was built in 1908 for the Warren Motor Car Co. but was taken over by automaker Henry Leland and served as the first Lincoln Motor Factory in 1917. After Leland realized the facility wouldn’t fit his needs, he began construction on a 600,000-square-foot production plant for Lincoln at W. Warren and Livernois avenues.

After Ford Motor Co. bought out Leland in 1922, the facility on Holden Street, located south of today’s Henry Ford Hospital, began producing Model Ts. The Lincoln plant at 6200 W. Warren produced the Lincoln Zephyr and Continental until 1952, when production was moved to Wayne followed by a new plant in Wixom in 1957.

It continued to be a manufacturing site from auto parts to refrigerators, for several decades. Later, it served as a food distribution warehouse and distribution center. It has been in Naimi’s family since 1981, and Naimi turned it in to Recycle Here in 2007. The complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in January.

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