Development on ex-Tiger Stadium site begins

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

A residential and retail development on the former Tiger Stadium site in Detroit’s Corktown is preparing to spring to life.

On Tuesday, construction work began on the $30 million project planned for the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. The intersection conjures memories for many of the former Tiger Stadium, where the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions once played. Nostalgia for the former stadium, now demolished, remains so strong the new development is called The Corner.

The Corner development aims to bring 111 residential units and 26,000 square feet of street-level retail. The retailers were not named for the planned storefronts, which will line Michigan Avenue, but the developers said they will focus on recruiting local businesses and offer some rents lower than market rates. The development is expected to be finished in one year, officials said Tuesday.

“For well over a century, this intersection was a place where people gathered and celebrated, where they came for entertainment and connections, and, all in all, where they came together to enjoy the good things in life,” said Eric Larson, president and CEO of Larson Realty Group, the Detroit developer behind the project, in a written statement provided Tuesday. “That’s exactly what The Corner celebrates. We’re thrilled we will be able to offer residents a local lifestyle infused with energy and excitement just minutes from downtown.”

After the Detroit Tigers started to play at Comerica Park downtown in 2000, there was a years-long passionate and sometimes ugly debate of what to do with the 91/2-acre site. For years, preservationists fought to keep the stadium and find another use for it, but city officials maintained that never made financial sense.

The stadium started to be demolished in 2008. It hosted the Detroit Tigers from 1912 to 1999, as well as the Detroit Lions from 1938 to 1974. The site was also previously known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium.

The mixed-use development is the other part of what ended up at the site. In March, the Detroit Police Athletic League’s debuted its $21 million headquarters, anchored by a baseball diamond.

The mixed-use development took a bit longer than expected but Larson Realty and the city pulled together the funding with help of some tax breaks and a lengthy list of private and public lenders, including Goldman Sachs, Capital Impact Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Invest Detroit, Michigan Strategic Fund, Enterprise Community Partners Inc., and the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

Residential housing will include 20 percent affordable housing units, which are eligible for people whose earnings amount to about 80 percent of the area median income. About 60 percent of the retail space will be provided at 50 percent of market rental rates.

Pre-leasing for the commercial and residential units is expected to take place during the construction period.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN