Housing development in Detroit's North Corktown targets middle-income earners
Detroit — Alita Burton had been looking for a home to purchase near her job in Southwest Detroit. When she learned that nonprofit Oakland Housing was building homes for sale in North Corktown aimed at middle-income earners, she jumped at the chance.
"I hurried up and made sure I got pre-qualified right away before they even put the foundation down," said Burton, 35. "I'm very excited, and I can't wait until they complete the project so I can move in."
Oakland Housing, a Birmingham-based nonprofit housing developer, celebrated Thursday its upcoming North Pine Street Townhomes on Pine Street. Construction is underway on the 14-unit development, with units that average 1,500 square feet, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All of the homes are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“To have this opportunity to move into something brand new, I’m so thankful and I’m so excited,” said Burton.
Prices for the townhomes begin at $226,900, said Kate Baker, executive director of Oakland Housing. The purchase price and monthly mortgage payment are based on an applicant’s income.
To qualify, a prospective buyer's income has to fall between $49,000 and $73,000 annually for a family of two and $61,000 and $91,000 for a family of four.
For a family of four with an income of about $76,000 and a $226,900 purchase price, the monthly mortgage payment would be about $1,100, Baker said. Applicants will secure their mortgages through Main Street Bank. As of Thursday, five homes have been sold.
As redevelopment in the Corktown area brings in more market-rate housing and the city pushes for low-income housing, officials say this development fills the need for housing for middle-income workers.
“Middle-income buyers are really squeezed right now…” Baker said. “We’re working to rebuild middle-income homeownership in the city of Detroit. We lost a lot of that in the Great Recession.”
The townhomes sit in an area ripe for development as Ford Motor Co. renovates the Michigan Central Depot and other buildings for its campus focused on autonomous and electric vehicles. The historic building can be seen from the new development.
Elizabeth Kmetz-Armitage, an associate director of public-private partnerships for the Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, said the city is not only committed to ensuring low-income housing but also housing designed for middle-income earners. Those occupations include firefighters, carpenters, physical therapists and dental hygienists.
“As Detroit continues to gain market strength, these middle-income earners are at risk of being priced out of some areas,” she said. “Projects like this help keep the balance in a quickly changing neighborhood.”
Oakland Housing, founded by James Couzens in 1935, built its first community development in West Bloomfield in 1936. Since that time, the nonprofit has built 250 homes for middle-income families in developments in Detroit, Pontiac, Rochester Hills and Troy. Among the developments is Woodbridge Estates, just west of the Lodge Freeway off Canfield.
Tricia Talley, president of the North Corktown Neighborhood Association, said Oakland Housing was in contact with residents early on, seeking input about the development.
“I like the fact that (Kate Baker) introduced it to the neighbors first,” Talley said. “We Detroiters want to see the revitalization of the city, but we don’t want to leave behind the people who stuck through it.
"So if there’s some way to help them benefit from what’s definitely coming or encourage other neighborhoods to get involved with the redesigning of their neighborhoods, we’re all for it.”