$7.5M project spurs Midtown Inc. stretch to New Center

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Detroit — The group credited for building up Detroit’s popular Midtown neighborhood is expanding its reach north along Woodward Avenue.

Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc., announced Friday that two projects in New Center would get $7.5 million in investment, a move that drives redevelopment dollars a bit further out from downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, where new construction projects have become commonplace.

Midtown Detroit Inc. and several partners will rehabilitate a three-story, 1896 building at 6568 Woodward, on the corner of Woodward and East Grand Boulevard, she said. The building will have a ground-floor restaurant named Wilda’s Cafe, a new venture from the founders of the popular Rose’s Fine Food diner on the city’s east side. The building will also have three affordable and seven market-rate apartments aimed at housing artists on the upper floors, and office space to be leased to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

The building, named Woodward Grand, is in the middle of its renovation. It is “the front door for New Center,” Mosey said. “It made sense for us to prioritize this ...”

Another chunk of the money announced Friday will go toward opening the North End Collective, across Woodward. That project is aimed at giving local entrepreneurs and businesses a venue to sell their merchandise and adds more shopping to the Woodward strip, Mosey said.

Mosey’s Midtown Detroit Inc. has about 70,000 square feet of commercial space along Woodward in New Center, she said, most of which is made up of storefronts.

Plans for New Center include adding home goods stores, bakeries, markets and small fitness centers, Mosey said. All of the plans will add value and business to the area where local businesses have been holding down the fort through Detroit’s economic recovery and QLine construction, which hampered foot traffic along Woodward the last couple years.

“We plan to do full renovations on all of the properties we bought,” she said Friday. The entities involved in the redevelopments have another $36.5 million “in the pipeline” for this district.

The projects should come on line within the next two years. Mosey said her company has surveyed New Center residents to see what they need on their neighborhood’s main drag.

In Midtown, Mosey and others have curated a mix of shopping, restaurants and other destinations, which have boosted the slice outside of downtown to become one of the most densely populated, well-known areas of the city.

Mosey said Friday that most of the storefronts acquired by her company already have tenants lined up.

Funding for the first projects come in part from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Capital Impact Partners and Invest Detroit.

Woodward Grand sits about three blocks from the M1 Rail offices on Woodward. New Center is the northern end of the 3.3-mile track, which stretches from downtown’s Campus Martius. The QLine will come online this spring, officials have said.

M1 and city officials have said for a few years that the rail would spur redevelopment in neighborhoods along the Woodward corridor.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau