State board approves nearly $8M in tax credits for ex-Free Press building

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Michigan Strategic Fund Board has approved nearly $8 million in brownfield tax incentives to assist Dan Gilbert in redeveloping the former Detroit Free Press building in downtown Detroit.

The tax credits, which include $442,989 originally awarded to previous owners in 2010 along with an additional $7.5 million, were granted to Pyramid Development Co., a Gilbert-affiliated company, on Tuesday.

Gilbert's team applied for the brownfield tax credits to offset the environmental costs to clean up the building that was deemed “functionally obsolete” from years of neglect.

The fund board also on Tuesday approved a five-year extension beyond what was given to the previous owner, Free Press Holdings. This means that the project now must be completed by March 8, 2021.

The former Detroit Free Press building is seen during renovations in June.

Gilbert’s team is renovating the long-vacant building at 321 W. Lafayette for a mixed-use development that will include a residential tower with ground-floor retail and two floors of office space. According to a fund board memo, Pyramid Development estimates the project will cost at least $78 million.

The building was purchased by Pyramid Development in September 2016 for $8.425 million, according to city records.

The Art Deco building, designed by famed architect Albert Kahn, was home to the Detroit Free Press from 1925 to 1998. The 248,684-square-foot building has been empty since that time.

The completed development will have more than 100 residential units, including studio, one and two bedrooms. The owners have previously said residents can begin moving in as early as the first quarter of 2020.

The project will result in the creation of 335 permanent full-time equivalent jobs with an average wage of $24 an hour, according to company officials.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN