Housing plans on for spring 2018 at Tiger Stadium site

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

New housing and retail space should be finished on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit by spring 2018 if federal tax credits are approved.

Eric Larson, president and CEO of Larson Realty, told The Detroit News his planned $35-million project known as The Corner should break ground by early 2017, and will take about 16 months. There will be about around 105 apartments, 35 townhouses and 35,000 square feet of retail space skirting the ground that once housed Tiger Stadium.

Larson said he should know by November if his project will get roughly $15 million in new-markets tax credits, which are federal funds distributed by local government or private entities to attract development to low-income communities. If the tax credits are approved, Larson expects to have The Corner fully designed and funded.

The project, announced in 2014 in tandem with the Detroit Police Athletic League’s $20-million youth sports stadium, has changed slightly in two years. About 10 townhouses were added to the plans. The new buildings hook around right field off Trumbull instead of trailing north to Interstate 75.

The design aims to replicate the neighborhood that would have been on Trumbull long before Tiger Stadium. Larson said his project is slightly behind schedule.

The townhouses will be for-sale units. Twenty percent of the apartments will qualify as affordable housing for buyers who earn about 80 percent of the annual median local income.

Sixty percent of the retail space will be subsidized to encourage local companies to set up shop.

Construction on the PAL project started in June. By June 2017, the organization will open their 2,500-seat stadium, office building and banquet hall on the corner of Michigan and Cochrane, west of Larson’s site.

The developments are separate. Larson isn’t affiliated with PAL, though he always planned to build around the historic baseball field

The PAL development has gotten backlash from historic preservationists and those in the Corktown community who allege the organization isn’t being transparent enough about their intentions for the site. But Larson said the community has been supportive of what he’s doing.

“The community has been unbelievably supportive of our activities and the way that we’re approaching the development,” Larson said. “Our experience in Corktown has been just fantastic.”

There might be “inflection points” spread throughout the development to mark important historical moments that happened in the stadium.

Larson was not charged with figuring out a way to reuse the field. His development always dealt with the open streetscape along Michigan Avenue and Trumbull.

But history is big for that chunk of Corktown, he said: “The curation of our overall development is very exciting ... it’s not contrived, but we’re really thinking creatively about how to intertwine the history into modern design.”

Tiger Stadium was demolished in 2009, leaving the field open and overgrown until the Navin Field Ground Crew, a group of volunteers, stepped in to maintain the field. The group has been vocal in its disdain for PAL’s plan for artificial turf.

The Detroit Tigers left Tiger Stadium in 1999. The diamond opened as Navin Field in 1912.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau