A proposed housing development and retail shops are expected to bring new life to the former site of the Joe Muer restaurant in Detroit, developers said Monday.
DVP LLC owner Charlie Edwards, who bought the 4.3-acre site just outside of downtown in 2015, is joining with longtime developers Peter Cummings and Dietrich Knoer on the project. The site’s proximity to Eastern Market, Lafayette Park and the Dequindre Cut make it a vital link between downtown and city neighborhoods, the developers said.
“This property is a gateway to downtown,” said Cummings, executive chairman of The Platform, which is a developer of mixed-use properties.
Cummings said he’s considering apartments with a commercial and retail presence, but that it’s too early to say for sure. The site is bounded by East Vernor Highway and Gratiot and St. Aubin avenues.
The Platform and DVP LLC will own the land, and The Platform will develop it. Gensler Detroit has been tabbed to be the lead architectural firm.
“Our goal is to create a place where everyone feels welcomed,” said Knoer, president and chief executive officer of The Platform.
The announcement comes as housing in the downtown, Corktown and Midtown areas has become scarce and driven up rents. Higher rents have attracted more developments and multifamily buildings.
There also have been complaints about how much the increasing development is catering to African Americans in the predominantly black city, which has the highest poverty rate in the country.
The Joe Muer site announcement is a sign that housing developments are spilling into other areas of Detroit. A press release indicated that $17.5 million from the Ford Foundation and businessman Stephen Ross plus another $10 million from The Platform for its neighborhood initiative will help bring affordable housing and market-rate apartments into the area.
The Joe Muer restaurant opened in 1929 and was a longtime staple of the city’s dining scene until it closed in 1998. The building sat vacant until it was razed in 2002. A new Joe Muer restaurant opened in the Renaissance Center in 2012.
“This is not an easy site to develop – its triangular shape poses both great challenges and opportunities,” Edwards said in a statement.
Edwards apparently is the “angel donor” who is working with the Detroit Fitness Foundation on a $4-million velodrome and sports complex in a park near the city’s Midtown neighborhood. A press release identified Edwards as being involved with the project.
The indoor velodrome complex is to be located at the Tolan Playfield, a park tucked behind the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Detroit Receiving Hospital near Eastern Market and the Dequindre Cut.