5 Detroit developments to watch in 2021


The pandemic brought development to a standstill in 2020. Construction increased again towards the end of the year and new projects were put online. As we steer this phase of recovery towards what will hopefully be a post-pandemic Detroit in 2021, here are some of the projects on our radar.

Ford’s Mobility Innovation District in Corktown

In November, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its multi-year plan for a 30-acre walkable community. The centerpiece was a renovated Michigan Central Station. In addition to what it touts as a unique mobility test platform for innovators, startups, entrepreneurs and others from around the world to develop, test and bring mobility solutions to market, the site map also calls for more public facilities such as green spaces and hiking and Bike paths as well as a grocery store and a daycare center.

In addition to the train station, these buildings play a key role in the development: the Book Depository designed by Albert Kahn, which is located next to the train station and is being converted into a maker space by the Gensler architectural office; Building West, a new building west of the train station; and The Factory, which already has 250 members of Ford’s autonomous vehicle business.

The automaker announced plans to restore the iconic train station, which fell into disrepair after being abandoned in the late 1980s in 2018. Work on the Book Depository and Bagley Parking Hub is slated to begin in the first quarter of this year, with both buildings expected to open early next year. Michigan Central Station is currently in the middle of the second phase of restoration. Completion is expected for the end of 2022.

In addition to the redesign of the open spaces around the district, we will also observe how the surrounding communities are affected and how the concerns of the neighbors are taken into account.

Michigan State Fairground Development

In October, Detroit City Council approved the sale of the state exhibition site to developers Sterling Group and Hillwood Enterprises. Of the 142 hectares, 78 hectares are being rented by the online giant Amazon for a new $ 400 million distribution center. The contract also includes the construction of a new transit center to replace the current one. The city of Detroit will receive a total of $ 16 million in proceeds from the sale, with approximately $ 1.2 million going to the Affordable Housing Development and Preservation Fund.

The deal met with strong reactions on social media and among the general public, both for and against. Transit blogger David Gifford wrote an open letter to Amazon asking for the historic bandhell ​​that hosted legendary musicians from Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington to Chaka Khan and Bob Dylan (and more if you want to fall down) a rabbit hole with musical icons click here), be spared.

The love building

Allied Media Projects laid the foundation stone for its new headquarters in Core City in autumn. If construction stays on course, the Love Building will reopen in September 2021. AMP has put together a group of nonprofits that will soon create a campus with a social justice building in Detroit, organizations that aim to “tear down a harmful system.” While the top three floors will largely be dedicated to non-profit tenants, the first floor will serve as a communal space for hosting events, meetings and other activities for neighborhood groups.

Joe Louis Greenway

This 42 km loop in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park will connect to existing greenways such as Dequindre Cut and Riverfront, as well as railroad lines and other bike paths to complete the loop.

As we reported in October, after more than a decade of planning, work on the former Conrail property is due to begin in the spring. This is the first construction of a route that connects existing and planned hiking trails across Detroit. The former railroad is the linchpin for the completion of the Joe Louis Greenway, a planned 32-mile non-motorized loop through the city, over the next 10 to 15 years.

“This will be a new way of connecting [Detroiters] and help get them to the river, “Meagan Elliott, Detroit’s chief park planner, told us at the time.” … it’s kind of a catalytic project that has all sorts of import options, and it’s just about keeping all of these pieces together and getting it right. I am very excited about this. “

Dreamtroit development

“Dreamtroit” is a major renovation project by the artists Matt Naimi and Oren Goldenberg, the owners of Recycle Here! and Lincoln Street Art Park complex. As Sarah Williams reported in October, her goal is to fight the displacement of artists and preserve the culture in the neighborhood, where Naimi has been a creative and environmentally conscious community around a ruined factory and a garbage dump (as he lovingly puts it) since 2005. has maintained.

Bonus: two development stories

While the following two aren’t specific projects, these are important issues that we’ll be keeping an eye on this year.

Affordable housing

Housing is considered affordable when housing costs do not exceed 30% of a household’s monthly income and it has become an increasingly important issue in the city over the years. In October we reported on how five residential projects, three new developments and two renovations are creating or maintaining a total of 282 affordable residential units in different parts of the city.

“The five unique developments will support our goal of producing and maintaining affordable, good quality housing for individuals, families and seniors with low and middle incomes, while supporting the city’s social and economic development goals,” said Chad Benson, Acting Development Director the MSHDA said at the time.

In August, David Sands reported on our Resilient Neighborhoods series on how CDOs are ensuring vacant properties are being converted into affordable housing, including the redevelopment of a former bank and school by Woodbridge Neighborhood Development and how GenesisHope is playing an active role in the development talk at Islandview .

Suggestion N.

While not a specific project, Proposal N encompasses 16,000 homes in the city of Detroit and yet will have a huge impact on the future of the city and its residents. The $ 250 million bond plan, which includes the renovation of 8,000 and the demolition of 8,000 homes, was overwhelmingly adopted in the November election, but some residents who wrote to Model D after it was passed criticized the proposal and said it was just another tax hike on Detroiters, many of whom are already paying too much tax on their homes.


Dusty Kennedy