More time sought for Paradise Valley plan in Harmonie Park

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News
A rendering of the Paradise Valley district celebrating African-American arts and culture that's planned for Detroit's Harmonie Park.

Detroit — Almost three years after plans were unveiled for a new downtown district highlighting African-American arts and culture, one of the developers is seeking a new timeline to build a residential and retail building. 

On Wednesday, the developer behind a potential new mixed-used building, with at least 60 residential units and first-floor retail, will seek a new closing date of April 2020 to complete the project, according to city documents. 

The Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment District plan was announced in June 2016. It originally involved the simultaneous redevelopment of five buildings and three parking lots clustered around a small triangular public space often called Harmonie Park. The area is bordered by East Grand River, Centre and Randolph. 

The original vision is grand: a boutique hotel; a jazz club; new restaurants; luxury and affordable housing; and a new parking garage. In 2016, there was hope the redevelopments would be close to opening by now, but the projects have been delayed.

The original plan called for $52.4 million worth of private investment from a group of five developers, who will become owners of the various properties and take on separate pieces of the overall plan. Most, but not all, of the developers are African-American. Several of the developers, including Rainy Hamilton Jr., Ismail Houmani and Hiram Jackson, already have existing businesses in the district.

On Wednesday, the developer behind the plan to build a new mixed-used building, with residential units and first-floor retail, will seek a new closing date of April 2020, according to city documents. The developer is Hiram Jackson's Paradise Valley Real Estate Holdings II. The extension is being sought from the city's Detroit Development Authority, which still controls the properties where the developments are planned. On Wednesday afternoon, the board of the DDA is expected to vote on the new deadline.

Jackson's Paradise Valley plans a "minimum" $26 million investment that will include at least 83,000 square-foot building with at least 60 residential units and first floor retail, according to a DDA document.  The development would be built at 1468, 1480 & 1496 Randolph, which are now parking lots. There was no mention of a new parking garage that was originally planned.

Jackson had sought to partner with adjacent landowners for a larger development but the deal fell through, the DDA document states. He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. 

Paradise Valley refers to a historic Detroit African-American neighborhood that was destroyed in the 1960s to make way for the Chrysler Freeway.

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