Banglatown gets $6M housing development

Christine Ferretti

Detroit — Affordable housing is on the way for a long vacant Catholic school building in Detroit’s Banglatown neighborhood.

Banglatown resident Victoria Griffin celebrates news that the long vacant Transfiguration School is being redeveloped as affordable housing.

Mayor Mike Duggan and the Archdiocese of Detroit on Thursday introduced a development team selected for the $6.4 million project to transform the former two-story Transfiguration School into a 23-unit apartment building. The future one and two-bedroom units will be offered at 60 percent of the area median income, Duggan said.

Detroit-based Ethos Development Partners and Building Blocks Nonprofit Housing Corp. intend to renovate the historic 1925 building that’s been vacant since 2005 and build a new third floor. The development team is set to acquire the building from the Archdiocese later this year. Rent for a one-bedroom unit will range from $500 to $600 per month, officials said.

Transfiguration School in Banglatown will soon be redeveloped into an affordable, 23-unit apartment complex.

An accompanying neighborhood stabilization plan will cover the demolition of 18 blighted homes on surrounding neighborhood blocks. The city said it expects the project will lead to additional development in the east side neighborhood where nearly two-thirds of its residents live at or below the poverty.

“I suspect the Archdiocese thought nobody would ever want to redevelop this property, but we’re starting to see the redevelopment come to neighborhoods,” Duggan said during a Thursday news conference on the first floor of the shuttered school.

“Neighborhood after neighborhood, we’re trying to do these sorts of projects. I’m excited to see a building that’s been long vacant be a vibrant part of a neighborhood that’s coming back.”

The city solicited a request for development proposals for the property in March. The city’s partnership with the Archdiocese was initiated as a pilot that the administration said aligns with Duggan’s strategy for strengthening neighborhoods.

“This is a really big day in the world of the Archdiocese,” said Michael McInerney, director of properties for the Archdiocese. “We hope to replicate this in a number of different locations around town.”

Transfiguration School in Banglatown will soon be redeveloped into an affordable, 23-unit apartment complex. It’s been vacant since 2005.

Ethos is also behind a $50 million rehabilitation of the Bell Building on Oakman Boulevard. The building serves as the new corporation headquarters for the Neighborhood Service Organization, and it provides permanent supporting housing units for formerly homeless individuals.

Building Blocks recently completed the $26 million historic rehabilitation of the River Crest Apartments to provide 161 units of affordable housing on Detroit’s lower east side.

“For the local community members, we are looking to engage the community to talk about plans for the project and get your input,” said Joseph Heaphy, president of Ethos, of the Banglatown plan on Thursday.

A larger planning study for Banglatown is anticipated early next year. The diverse neighborhood, near the Detroit-Hamtramck border, is home to Bangladeshi-Americans as well as African-American, Yemeni, Polish, and Bosnian residents.

“This lets us know that the city of Detroit is not just about downtown; they are actually bringing it to the community,” said resident Victoria Griffin, who lives one block over.

The project will be funded through federal dollars and historic and low-income tax credits.

Construction is expected to begin by fall 2018. It’s projected for completion in late 2019.