Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM), Related Cos. in New York City, and the city of Detroit have announced plans to begin an extensive Community Benefits Ordinance process for a proposed $1.5 billion, multi-building development in The District Detroit, the 50-block area that includes Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park, and Ford Field.
The CBO process marks the next phase of plans to build new office, retail, residential with affordable housing, hotel, and public space across 10 properties in The District Detroit, which in addition to sports stadiums includes multiple historic theaters, residential spaces, offices, retail, hotels, and parks.
The goal is to attract and retain talent and inclusive economic development in Detroit and Michigan. The first meeting for residents in the areas surrounding the development will take place at 6 p.m. on Nov. 29 at Cass Technical High School.
The proposed development includes the construction of six new buildings and the renovation and adaptive reuse of four historic buildings. The mix and type of proposed projects reflect significant initial feedback from more than 250 community engagement meetings to date, which will continue through the city-led community benefits process.
Building upon Related Cos.’ and ODM’s previously announced shared vision for The District Detroit and the Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI), a world-class research, education, and entrepreneurship center west of the Fox Theatre, the additional projects proposed include 695 mixed-income residential units — 20 percent of which are reserved as affordable housing at 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI) — 1.2 million square feet of commercial office space, 100,000 square feet of retail space, and 467 hotel rooms.
This phase of proposed mixed-use projects in The District Detroit includes:
- Four residential projects totaling 695 units with 20 percent of units set aside as affordable housing at 50 percent Area Median Income, including:
- Two new construction residential buildings:
- 2250 Woodward Avenue. A proposed mixed-use development that includes residential space with ground floor retail.
- 2205 Cass Avenue. A proposed residential building that will be part of the mixed-use campus of the DCI.
- Two historic preservation residential buildings:
- 408 Temple Street. This is a planned rehabilitation of the brown brick and terra cotta building, formerly known as the American/Fort Wayne Hotel, designed by Ellington and Weston and located in the City’s Cass Park Historic District. It is proposed to be renovated into a mixed-use building with first floor retail and residential space.
- 2210 Park Avenue. This is a planned rehabilitation of the neoclassical style Detroit Life Building, designed by Arnold & Schreve and located in the City’s Park Avenue Historic District. It is proposed to be renovated into a mixed-use facility with first floor retail and residential space.
- Four commercial office buildings:
- 2200 Woodward Avenue. A proposed mixed-use development that includes first floor retail and office space.
- 2305 Woodward Avenue or 2300 Cass Avenue. A proposed mixed-use development which includes first floor retail with office space above.
- Two different locations are under consideration for this structure depending on prospective tenant feedback — either: (a) 2305 Woodward Avenue, west of Woodward Avenue, East of Park Avenue, south of I-75 and north of Montcalm Street or (b) 2300 Cass, east of Cass Avenue, west of Clifford Street, south of I-75 and north of Montcalm Street.
- 2300 Woodward Avenue. A proposed mixed-used development that includes first floor retail with office space.
- 2115 Cass Avenue. A proposed business incubator that will be part of the mixed-use campus of the DCI. This project will include the adaptive reuse of the former Moose Lodge building at that location.
- Two proposed hotels, including:
- 2455 Woodward Avenue. This previously announced hotel is located at Woodward and I-75 Service Drive, adjacent to Little Caesars Arena.
- 2211 Woodward Avenue. This is a proposed adaptive reuse of the current Fox Office Building to a hotel. It will not alter the historic Fox Theatre.
- Two new construction residential buildings:
The developers state they will secure LEED certification for the buildings, prioritizing sustainably designed open space, and supporting low-carbon transportation options and infrastructure across the proposed development.
“These projects will build on the successful progress such as Little Caesars world headquarters, 2715 Woodward, the Eddystone residences, and the multiple historic residential developments open or underway,” says Keith Bradford, president of Olympia Development of Michigan and The District Detroit.
“The construction and operations of each project will help our state and region attract the world’s leading companies and top talent to Detroit while maximizing economic opportunity for those who are already here. We look forward to working with the City and community partners to garner input while creating places and spaces all Detroiters can enjoy.”
This proposal for a package of transformative real estate development projects in The District Detroit is in addition to retail, entertainment, office, and residential development underway or recently completed by Olympia Development.
The list includes Cass & Henry, a proposal to restore six residential buildings and community space on a single historically designated block in The District Detroit, the recent restoration of the historic Eddystone residences, and the Residences@150 Bagley led by Bagley Development Group.
These projects together represent 410 new homes in Detroit, 131 of which are reserved as affordable housing for residents earning 30-80 percent of the area median income rate.
Community Benefits Process – How it works
Detroit is the only major city to have a community benefits ordinance that gives residents living in the area impacted by a development a say in the project and the ability to negotiate certain benefits. To date, 12 completed CBO processes have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in benefits to neighborhoods beyond the initial development investment.
The City of Detroit has mailed invitations to a series of community meetings with Related and Olympia Development to 6,500 households in the four-census tract impact area. The City intentionally expanded the size of the impact zone for this project to maximize the opportunities for community participation.
The first two meetings will be held November 29th and December 6th. These initial meetings will allow members of the surrounding community to learn more about the proposed development plans and to share their feedback and to select community representatives on the Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) that will negotiate the community benefits agreement.
Every community benefits NAC is made up of 9 members:
- 2 selected by residents living in the impact area
- 3 selected by City Council members (1 each by the councilperson representing the impacted district and two at-large councilmembers)
- 4 selected by Planning & Development Department
The city’s community benefits ordinance requires a minimum of seven meetings. Members of the NAC, who must live in the impacted area and be at least 18 years of age, negotiate various community benefits specific to the projects to address anticipated impacts, such as programs to help residents participate in the economic opportunities created by the development.
Once the NAC and developers agree on a series of benefits and timelines, the NAC votes to endorse the community benefits agreement. That agreement is then forwarded to City Council for final approval.
“Developments of this quality and scale provide incredible opportunity for Detroiters to directly benefit from them, whether that means job training in the construction trades, employment in the developments, affordable housing, or being part of the process to negotiate a community benefits package,” says Nicole Sherard Freeman, who serves as the city’s group executive for jobs, economy, and Detroit at Work. “Residents who engage in this process will have the ability to help shape the transformational possibilities this development will have on this district for years to come.”
“This is an exciting announcement for Detroit and an incredible opportunity for District 6 residents in the impact area to be at the table for discussions about the future of their neighborhood. I encourage local residents to be actively engaged in the upcoming CBO process and to share their vision and hopes with the developers,” said Gabriela Santiago-Romero, Detroit City Council Member for District 6. “Residents are also welcome to contact my office if they have any questions.”
The proposed development plans depend on attaining suitable financing and partners, as well as public financial support. To that end, Related and Olympia have announced they are filing a Transformational Brownfield Plan (TBP) application with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
The TBP is reserved for projects that will have a transformational impact on local economic development and community revitalization while also having an overall positive fiscal impact on the State. Should the application be approved, public financing through the TBP will only be provided for those projects that begin providing jobs and positive economic impact through construction and beyond.
Over the 35-year incentive benefit period, projected net fiscal tax benefits include more than $1 billion for the State of Michigan, $700 million for the City of Detroit’s general fund, and $442 million for other taxing jurisdictions.
No City general fund support is being requested or provided for the proposed developments. Once financing and requested public incentives are secured, it is expected that work would begin on the office building at 2200 Woodward in 2023.
Annual operations of the project will support more than 6,000 total jobs within the city of Detroit. Operations are expected to generate more than $500 million in wages within the City of Detroit on an annual basis. Operations are also projected to yield approximately $1.6 billion per year in direct economic activity in Michigan.
Construction of the projects are projected to support approximately 12,000 temporary construction-related jobs. Construction is expected to generate more than $800 million in wages. Construction also is projected to yield approximately $1.4 billion in direct economic activity in Michigan.
“This planned development in The District Detroit will create economic opportunity and thousands of good jobs for Michigan residents,” says Tom Lutz, executive secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. “We continue to see high demand for our skilled trades workforce and this planned development is another example of how working men and women will be instrumental in building Michigan’s future. Detroiters should know that our doors are open to learn the skills that will enable them to join our workforce and empower them to take advantage of the opportunities created by this project.”
At the center of the future plans for The District Detroit is the previously announced Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI). The DCI will be anchored by a world-class estimated $250 million, 200,000 square-foot research and education center operated by the University of Michigan. Wayne State University and the University of Michigan are expected to explore programmatic partnerships through the DCI, the organizations said.
“It’s exciting to see this project — which holds so much promise for the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan — taking these important next steps. We are looking forward to increasing our engagement and presence in the city,” says U-M President Santa J. Ono.
“This next phase of The District Detroit will help re-energize Detroit’s resurgence following the slowdown of the pandemic,” says Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “We are excited to be partners with the Detroit Center for Innovation, and the residential and business development will add to what is already a great environment around our Mike Ilitch School of Business. The people of Detroit, and the Wayne State community, will reap the benefits of this initiative for years to come.”
Programs at the DCI will focus on research and innovation, with the goal of supporting the economic development of Detroit and the state with a pipeline of talent. The DCI will also provide a critical skills pathway for students from Detroit Public Schools Community District and beyond.
“Detroit’s future is incredibly promising and Related is committed to harnessing the potential of the DCI to drive inclusive economic growth,” says Andrew Cantor, president of Related Michigan. “These projects are important pieces of the puzzle that will help create world-class spaces for the people of this city and we look forward to continuing to work hand in hand with members of the community to realize this shared vision.”
For more information, visit districtdetroit.com.