Detroit — Community leaders broke ground Thursday on a senior living development for middle class retirees.

Hartford Village on Meyers near McNichols in northwest Detroit, will offer a gated community of upscale cottages and apartments with 24-hour security near churches and services.

Construction is expected to be completed in about a year.

Groundbreaking on the $16 million development was the culmination of more than three years of collaboration between Hartford Memorial Baptist Church and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, with the support from the city of Detroit, Wayne County and other agencies and foundations.

“Whoever would have thought we’d be standing here at the end of a recession, building houses for some 80 people,” Hartford Memorial Pastor Rev. Charles G. Adams said Thursday before blessing the development. “It took work to do this.”

Wayne County contributed $1 million for a new $17 million Detroit senior living community, officials said. The county’s donation comes from federal HOME program grants it receives to help build, buy or remodel housing to sell or rent to low-income residents. Hartford Village is the first project to get HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding from the county this year, the county said.

“The need for safe, affordable housing options for seniors, that are in close proximity to important quality of life amenities, is a constant topic of discussion among the Wayne County seniors I meet with,” said Wayne County Executive Warren Evans in a statement.

Detroit Corporation Council Butch Hollowell said the development will help keep people in the city by revitalizing one neighborhood at a time.

“Our No. 1 goal is to get the city to grow,” Hollowell said. “This is the type of project that will get the city to grow.”

Lou Brock came to the groundbreaking, saying she’d like to move back to Detroit. She grew up in the Black Bottom area of Detroit, and graduated from Miller High School. But when it was time to move into a senior citizen community, Detroit didn’t have what she needed, she said.

“Southfield, that’s where I moved,” Brock, 81, said Thursday. “But this is still home. Detroit is home.”

Georgia Cambell, a medical social worker in Detroit, said it’s difficult for seniors to find housing that meets their needs.

“I struggle every day to find housing for seniors,” Cambell said. “The need is so huge, and the wait is so long — for the good ones anywhere from six months to a year.

“The biggest problem is to find someplace they can afford, that’s clean and that’s going to have the necessary services like transportation and (nearby) shopping.”

Hartford Village will include 39 two-bedroom/two-bath independent living cottages and 45 one- and two-bedroom apartments, all designed with landscaped grounds. The development is a stone’s throw from the Northwest Activities Center, and stores and restaurants.

“The future of Detroit’s neighborhoods is the future of Detroit as a whole,” said Bryan Hogle, Detroit program officer for the Kresge Foundation, a contributor to the project.

“Detroiters deserve good housing, whatever their age and circumstance.”

Staff Writer Charles Ramirez contributed.

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