Gilbert team to handle housing in pending Brewster plan
Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit will be part of a joint venture that would control more than 1,000 units of housing on the former Brewster-Douglass housing projects site and portions of Detroit’s Eastern Market.
Currently more concept than reality, the projected $416.6 million development would add 1,000 apartments to the nearly 400 units of housing he plans to start building just a few blocks away through the Brush Park Development Co.
The Douglass-Market Transformation Plan released by Detroit outlines a five-year plan that will “build an interconnected community with the amenities and supports to allow all families to thrive” by building 1,037 new units of “high-quality, well-designed housing.” The housing could be apartments or townhouses. About 230 of those residential units will qualify as public housing.
The city is waiting to hear whether it will get a $30-million federal grant through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, which it applied for in June.
According to the outline, the city wants to have the entire project finished by 2022. If it lands the HUD grant, construction would start next year.
The city needs the grant to complete the project in its entirety, said James Arthur Jemison, director of the city’s housing and revitalization department.
To apply for the grant, the city had to show it had “firmly committed” funding to match the $30-million from the feds for the first phase of the plan. The committed money is only guaranteed if the city is awarded the grant.
The grant acts as seed money for the first implementation phase that would build 340 housing units within the first two and a half years. The remaining phases of the five-year plan would spin off phase one as additional funding is secured.
If all goes according to plan, Gilbert’s real estate arm, Bedrock Detroit, will be part of a joint venture implementing the housing portion of the plan. The joint venture, Choice Detroit LLC, is made up of Bedrock, Enterprise Community Partners and Ginosko Development Corp.
The proposed development targets the 22-acre former Douglass Tower site bounded by Beaubien to the west, Chrysler Service Drive to the east, Wilkins and Alfred to the north and Winder to the south. Brewster-Douglass was the largest residential housing project owned by the city. It was torn down in 2014.
The Eastern Market sites included in the plan are at Shed 4 and at 3480 Russell, which is a vacant lot next to Detroit Mercantile Co. Both sites are owned by the city.
Representatives for Gilbert’s companies declined to comment on the Douglass-Market plans or their involvement in the proposed housing.
The city’s plan aims to replace public housing in addition to building additional market-rate housing, bring thousands of square feet of commercial space to the area, and bridge the I-75 boundary that cuts the Brewster site off from Eastern Market, according to the 27-page document. According to the plan, the community requested there be no distinguishable difference between the public housing and the for-rent or for-sale units.
The Brewster site will hold 850 residential units, a majority of which are planned as rentals. There may be some for-sale townhouse units.
At 3480 Russell, the plan calls for 71 units; 24 of those will be live-work units. Shed 4 will have 62 “workforce and market-rate rental housing units.”
The Douglass-Market outline also includes an apartment building planned for 124 Alfred in Brush Park that is part of Gilbert’s separate Brush Park project. The 54-unit senior housing complex includes eight units that would qualify as affordable housing.
Plans also call for a food processing and production building in Eastern Market, a one-acre park near the Douglass Tower site and better security with a 24-hour monitored security system “to monitor the most notable high crime areas, open space and recreation areas, and new residential and commercial investments.”
In addition to the HUD grant, the city could seek funding through other local, state and federal sources as well as private investors. If the grant falls through, the city “commits to working with the established implementation team, neighborhood leaders, the philanthropic community, and state and federal department administrators... to leverage and raise dollars and to implement the plan, as funded.”
The Brush Park neighborhood is seeing a flurry of development, most of which is expected to wrap within the time frame the Brewster-Market planners have set.
Gilbert’s crew is gearing up to start on roughly 400 units of housing on 8.4-acres a few blocks southwest of the Brewster site. That $70-million project will erect 20 buildings set amid historic Victorian homes.
John Rhea, managing partner of Rheal Capital Management, will on Tuesday bring plans before the City Council for a vote on a $65-million mixed-use development spread across several city-owned parcels in an area just south of Gilbert’s development. His plans call for 280 residential units.
To the south of the Brewster-Market site, Curt Catallo, owner of Union Joints restaurant group, is moving forward with plans to renovate the historic Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center. He plans to convert the facility into a restaurant, community center and office space.
A private apartment complex, The Scott at Brush Park, will open in December. The complex adds nearly 200 market-rate units to the neighborhood. The Scott takes up almost an entire square block bounded by Woodward on the west, John R on the east, Erskine on the north and Watson on the south. Situated along the QLine streetcar route, the apartments are a couple blocks north of Little Caesars Arena.