Fisher Body Plant redevelopment gets brownfield plan OK from Detroit City Council

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Plans to rehabilitate the former Fisher Body Plant for a mixed-use development with 433 residential units moved forward Monday as the Detroit City Council unanimously approved a brownfield plan for the site.

The developer, Fisher 21 Lofts, LLC, requested $24.8 million in tax increment financing for the demolition and environmental remediation of the site that sits on three parcels at 6051 Hastings St., 666 Harper Ave. and 991 Harper. The overall value of the plan is $31.3 million, which includes local brownfield costs, according to the city.

The former Fisher Body plant in Detroit on May 4. City council members approved a brownfield development plan for the site Monday.

The city council, on summer recess, held a special session Monday to vote on matters related to the development. The council also approved Monday the establishment of a obsolete property rehabilitation district. The developer is expected to come back for a 12-year certificate request at a later date.

The council also voted to place the developer's request for a 15-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone on its Sept. 27 meeting agenda as the matter must wait 60 days after Monday’s public hearing.

The project includes site demolition, abatement and the rehabilitation of one 600,000 square-foot industrial building.

"We are very grateful for the confidence the council showed in the project and our group with today's approval and appreciative of the community questions, input and engagement with the public comments," said developer Richard Hosey. "Today's approval allows us to continue forward at our fast pace to get the building in our control and secured this fall so the larger clean-up and subsequent rehabilitation can occur."

The development team, lead by Hosey and Greg Jackson, plans to invest $134 million in the project at the former Fisher Body Plant, which has been vacant since the 1990s. Construction is expected to begin April 2023. When complete in 2025, the building will house 433 residential units on floors 2-6 and commercial space on the first floor, according to officials.

The approval came after some discussion on the affordability aspect of the project.

Councilwoman Mary Waters expressed concerns about residents being able to afford the rents.

“I worry because we've had so many evictions and I just don't know how many Detroiters are going to have the income to pay at 80% area median income,” she said.

Hosey said their research showed that there is a population in Detroit that is available to afford the units, which will be $1,250 a month for a studio, $1,340 for a one-bedroom and $1,600 for a two-bedroom based on 80% of the area median income.

He also said while meeting with the neighborhood advisory committee that there's a commitment made in the community benefits agreement to change from 20% of units at 80% area median income to three two-bedroom units priced at 50% area median income and 60 total studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments at 80% area median income. The two-bedroom units at 50% the area median income would cost $1,007 a month, less a projected $186 utility allowance for a total rent of $821, Hosey said.

Councilman Scott Benson said the city needs more housing for Detroit residents who might otherwise leave for the suburbs.

“When you don’t have housing for those who can afford market rate, when you don't have housing for those who are middle income and need a slight subsidy to make it there who want to stay, but then if you look at the numbers and you can find an equivalent or a space that meets your needs in Harper Woods or maybe in Grosse Pointe, then we lose that,” he said. “Construction and rehabilitation of property that allows our residents to stay and then attracts residents is what we need. And that's how we grow our tax base.”

According to city, the site, which is currently city-owned and generating no taxes, is expected to generate a $8.1 million fiscal benefit once the project is complete.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN