$150M development in Detroit's Corktown opens first phase

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — A little more than two years after breaking ground on a $150 million mixed-use development, the first phase of Elton Park Corktown is complete.

Developer Soave Real Estate Group, Mayor Mike Duggan and community members celebrated Wednesday the new 151 residential units in an area just east of the old Tiger Stadium site.

Mayor Mike Duggan addresses the group at the Elton Park opening in Corktown on Wednesday.

It was an effort accomplished with the input of businesses and residents, said Nico Schultz, senior vice president of real estate for Soave Real Estate Group.

“We committed to this approach from the very beginning ensuring that Elton Park's scale, design and aesthetic character would reflect the character of this historic neighborhood,” he said. “Our goal was not to change Corktown but enhance it ... to build upon what makes this neighborhood so special.”

Schultz made his comments in the Checker Alley area of the development, an outdoor gathering space lined with retail storefronts between the Checker Cab Building and 2120 Trumbull.

This is the second-floor kitchen in one of the newly opened 8th Street Row Homes.

Touted as the largest development Corktown has seen in decades, Elton Park Corktown includes five new buildings and the renovation of the Checker Cab Building. That building features 45 one-bedroom apartments and seven two-bedroom apartments with tall windows, polished concrete flooring, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Developers say more than 70 percent of the apartments have been leased since the first resident moved into the first completed building late last year, the transformed Checker Cab Building on Trumbull.

As part of a tour Wednesday, the developer opened its doors to the last building completed in the first phase, the 8th Street Row Homes, which consists of four, three-story townhomes.

Felicia Sears, a tenant in the Checker Cab building, said she liked the historic area and an opportunity to choose her floor plan. She selected a one-bedroom loft-style apartment that overlooks Checker Alley.

"My first attraction to this location was actually walking in the door and realizing this is a community setting," she said. 

Felicia Sears, a Checker Cab Building resident, shows off her living room.

Retail in the area also gets a boost with the project bringing 11,400-square-feet of space that will accommodate six businesses. Developers said Wednesday that they are looking for businesses that will serve as assets to the neighborhood. Tenants will be announced in the upcoming months.

Soave Real Estate Group broke ground on Elton Park in May 2017. The site was previously commercial and vacant land, largely gravel parking. The development’s name comes from a park lost to the Lodge Freeway construction in the 1950s.

There are 300 acres of land left for another 300 units but there is no timeline yet for those, Schultz said.

Duggan said he was impressed with the developer’s effort to turn parking lots into a mixed-use development.

“We’re building the kind of dense neighborhood that is going to support the businesses that come along here, which is going to bring even more businesses,” Duggan said.

A 1951 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe Checker cab is parked in front of the Checker Cab Building, right, before the official opening Wednesday of the first phase of Elton Park.

The project received $6.9 million from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program and financing from Comerica Bank and Huntington Bank.

“We have these tools particularly for impactful projects like this,” said Stacy Esbrook, director for the Community Assistance Team at Michigan Economic Development Corp. “Projects that bring housing to neighborhoods where people can actually afford to live and providing space for small businesses that are looking to grow or even start.”

Rental rates range from $1,065 to $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom unit, $1,800 to $2,500 a month for a two-bedroom unit and $3,200 for a three-bedroom townhome. Twenty percent of the units are set aside as affordable housing. All of those units are rented, according to the developer. 

Other developers have recently added residential options to the Corktown neighborhood. Across Trumbull, the Corner, a mixed-use development by the Larson Realty Group opened to its first tenants this summer on the former site of Tiger Stadium.

In North Corktown, Oakland Housing, a Birmingham-based nonprofit housing developer, expects to complete by the end of the year a 14-unit for-sale townhouse development geared toward middle-income earners.


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN