Detroit developments rising despite pandemic, economic shock

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

COVID-19 isn't stopping residential redevelopment in Detroit.

Construction has begun on Woodward West, a $60 million mixed-use development in Midtown — one of several projects that have started in recent weeks amid the worsening pandemic.

The five-story development is a collaboration of Detroit-based firms The Platform and Queen Lillian. It will feature 204 apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail set to open in summer 2022. Sitting south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, it's on one of the last major undeveloped parcels on Woodward.

Rendering of Woodward West, a $60 million, new construction mixed-use project in Midtown. The development, set to open in summer 2022, will bring 204 apartments and nearly 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The rental apartments will range from studio to two-bedroom units. Twenty percent of the units will be below market rate for those with incomes at 80 percent of the area median income. 

"We are proud that we are not displacing an existing neighborhood but, in fact, working with the existing neighborhood to bring quality, affordable housing and retail offerings to the community," Christopher Jackson, co-principal and managing partner of Queen Lillian, said in a statement Thursday.

Construction of Woodward West comes less than a year after The Platform opened The Boulevard, an apartment building at Third Avenue and West Grand Boulevard in the New Center neighborhood.

“The strong leasing at The Boulevard, even amid the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrates the demand for more new housing and retail in our city,” said Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of The Platform. 

Construction continues throughout the pandemic with work beginning on several projects in Metro Detroit in recent weeks.

Last week, Detroit-based developer City Growth Partners broke ground on the Brush 8 condominium on a vacant lot at 3119 Brush. In late October, construction began on a 42,000-square-foot Meijer store, a small-format version called Rivertown Market on Jefferson in the area of the Lafayette Park and Rivertown neighborhoods. 

Rendering of the $4.7 million Brush 8 condominium development in Detroit’s Brush Park neighborhood.

There's been no shortage of work for the construction trades since building activity resumed after a shutdown in the spring. 

"We have been very busy, especially this last year," said Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building Trades Council, which represents 100,000 skilled trades workers. Case in point: thousands of construction workers have been deployed to auto plant projects, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's Mack plant and Warren Truck Assembly.

"Health care is building all over the state," he said. "We've got hospitals and professional offices, doctor's offices going, a lot of school bond work is being performed."

In the summer, the Woodward West team and the Michigan Minority Contractors Association hosted an on-site event for potential trade partners. It also held with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. a virtual session to find tradespeople for the project. Developers say they aim to provide jobs to Detroiters.

Amenities at the Woodward West will include an outdoor roof deck, theater, fitness center, wellness studio, pet wash station and electric car charging ports. There will also be 84 on-site surface parking spaces. Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates is the architect and Detroit-based Sachse Construction the contractor.

The project recently received a $5.3 million loan from the state's Michigan Community Revitalization Program and a $2.2. million loan from the Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit. The senior lender is CIBC Bank. Capital Impact Partners and Invest Detroit provided loans during the predevelopment phase.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN