Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan recalls when the historic 70 W. Alexandrine building was occupied by "prostitutes and drug dealers" in 2002; for the past 11 years, the eight-story structure sat dead.
In the past few years, at least four attempts to raise the money to revive it have failed. But Tuesday, a $28 million project was announced that will convert the building into 129 apartments and 2,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. It is slated to reopen in 18 months.
"It was a big, looming eyesore that really needed to be addressed," said Sue Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit Inc., the nonprofit that plays a major role in the development of Midtown. It took at least 12 sources of funding to raise the $28 million, including support from various federal, state and city government agencies.
Three foundations have invested and so has U.S. Bank and the Invest Detroit development fund.
The restored building will be called Strathmore, an homage to its original name: the Strathmore Hotel. It was built in 1924 and operated as an apartment hotel until 1964 and then converted to 187 rental apartments until the building closed in 2004.
Fifty-two of the 129 planned units will be offered at "affordable housing" rates; the rest will rent at higher market rates.
Duggan says he'd like to see any new residential development that gets city money reserve "20 to 40 percent" of its units for moderate- to low-income residents.
"Great cities include everybody," Duggan said. The city invested $4 million it had available from the federal government in the Strathmore's redevelopment.
Any new housing development in Detroit that gets government money should have units with affordable rates, Duggan said. The general definition of affordable housing is the monthly rent or mortgage doesn't exceed 30 percent of the household's income.
"Everyone will be involved in Detroit's comeback," Duggan said.