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City unveils $77M development for Wigle center

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The long-neglected Wigle Recreation Center site is slated for a $77 million redevelopment expected to bring new jobs, housing and retail to the Midtown neighborhood.

The seven-acre site will feature a mixed-use development with 8,000 square feet of retail space and 335 for-sale condos and townhouses and rental units, a portion of which will be reserved as affordable.

Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled the plan Thursday alongside the development team for Midtown West, which will fill the largest city-owned vacant parcel in the Cass Corridor.

The seven-acre site will feature a mixed-use development with 8,000 square feet of retail space and 335 for-sale condos and townhouses and rental units, a portion of which will be reserved as affordable. There also will be an acre of public green space.

“Redevelopment doesn’t mean moving people out, it means taking care of people here and bringing people in to join them,” Duggan said during a news conference inside Delta Prep Academy on the John C. Lodge Freeway.

PDH Development Group, a partnership between Detroit-based developer Roderick Hardamon and New York-based developer Mario Procida, was selected by the city after proposals were accepted last fall.

Under the agreement, the developers will purchase the land from the city for $1.8 million.

“It’s an ambitious project,” Procida said Thursday. “We’re humbled to have been selected by the city to undertake the challenge.”

Hardamon, who lives in the city’s Sherwood Forest neighborhood, added his mother was a former administrator at Delta Prep and he’s connected to the community.

“I know the area,” he said. “For me, this is a perfect way to make an impact in the city I love so much.”

The project, which is expected to break ground by fall 2018, will be completed in two phases. The first, officials said, will include 167 of the 335 proposed new residential units as well as the construction of 8,000 square feet of rental space and the acre of public open space.

It also will cover a new street grid, which calls for the reopening of Fourth Street from Selden to Brainard and the rebuilding of Tuscola from Third Street to the Lodge access road.

The final phase will see the completion of residential units and some commercial space, officials said.

The site, which sits three blocks west of Woodward, is bounded by the Lodge Freeway northbound service drive to the west, Selden Street to the north, the public alley west of Third Street to the east and vacated Brainard Street to the south.

Midtown West will also be subject to the city’s new voter-approved community benefits ordinance. The local law requires community engagement to hammer out certain protections and opportunities for residents.

The project, officials said, is the first residential development to go through the community benefits process.

It’s expected to create 200 temporary construction jobs, more than 100 of which are expected to go to Detroit residents, officials said. The project will result in 11 permanent jobs.

“This is the first largely residential community benefit partnership,” Duggan said. “So we’re getting a chance to see what redevelopment means when you honor and respect the people who are here and make the city available to those who want to join us.”

Council member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez said she’s a “staunch advocate” of community benefits and will work to ensure residents have a voice.

“I am glad that we have legislation and that the city is moving to where I think is the right direction,” she said of the benefits ordinance. “Every neighborhood has an identity, and it’s integral to any development that comes to the city of Detroit.”

Keviyan Richardson, 20, of Detroit, frequently comes to a skate park on the development site, which he noted is mainly occupied by homeless people.

“I get it. It’s 50-50 with me,” he said of the project. “I get they are trying to make more living spaces, but it’s more specifically whom for and why. I mean, there are more homeless people around here than others.”