$50M mixed-use development planned near Belle Isle

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — A developer has announced plans to build a $50 million mixed-use development on the site of the former Big Boy restaurant on East Jefferson.

The Platform says demolition of the restaurant at 7033 E. Jefferson will begin Wednesday to make way for the eight- to 10-story retail and residential development.

The site sits in the Islandview neighborhood at the foot of Belle Isle Park across the street from the Douglas MacArthur Bridge entrance.

The project will have 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and on-site parking. A mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom options will make up 240 apartments. Twenty percent will be set aside for affordable housing.

“Our vision for this major residential development is one that is both transformational and contextually sensitive,” said Dietrich Knoer, president and CEO of the Platform, in a statement. “We look forward to engaging with our neighbors and community stakeholders about future programming and what they’d like to see come to Islandview.”

Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson and Los Angeles-based wHY have been hired as the architectural team. Officials with the Platform said the team was chosen because of “its ability to design a beautiful, cutting-edge building that honors the site’s prominent location.”

A groundbreaking is expected in the fourth quarter of 2018 and an opening set for mid-2020.

“Detroit hasn’t seen a high-rise project of this scale built in the neighborhoods in some time, so it was important that we find partners who will not only design this project right, but do right by our neighbors in Islandview,” Knoer said.

“The team of wHY and Hamilton Anderson will create a design that integrates planning, community engagement, architecture, landscape and construction seamlessly into a development that all of Detroit will be proud of. Hamilton Anderson’s history of community engagement and understanding of Detroit is key to ensuring this project’s integration into the fabric of this neighborhood.”

The owners of the last Big Boy in the city of Detroit closed the restaurant’s doors this past Easter Sunday after 50 years.

During the summer, the former restaurant’s parking lot was used as a weekly market on Fridays, Islandview Marketplace, which featured an Eastern Market Farm Stand and local vendors. The Platform was a partner in the effort.

“They have been a familiar face at community meetings all year, and we are excited to see this project move forward,” said Jeanine Hatcher, director of GenesisHOPE, which managed the youth operated market.

The Platform joins other entities that have made an investment in the Islandview neighborhood, including Church of the Messiah, Jefferson East Inc and the Eastside Community Network.

“This project compliments the work our church, neighborhood groups, and local businesses are doing to improve Islandview,” said Barry Randolph, pastor at Church of the Messiah, which sits near the site on East Grand Boulevard.

In addition to the the site’s location across from Belle Isle Park, it also allows access to Gabriel Richard Park and the East Riverfront.

The Platform also controls five other parcels in the area just north on East Grand Boulevard, including a former nursing home designed by the famed architect Louis Kamper. The company plans to renovate it into a mixed-income residential property.

Officials said details of the other properties are expected to be announced in early 2018.


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN