Detroit council OKs controversial Harbortown development

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Bloomfield Hills-based developer with plans to complete the nearly 40-year build-out of Harbortown has been given the green light from the Detroit City Council to build a five-story apartment building and 11 townhomes.

In a 7-2 vote, the council approved a zoning change that would allow for the development known as Waters Edge II. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield voted down the request.

Spinnaker Tower residents say their view of the Detroit River, a marina and a pond would be blocked if apartments are built in this green space.

The project had been met with numerous concerns from residents including obstructed views of the Detroit River, decreased green space, security issues and the potential strain on the sewer system.

Sheffield said while she supports development in the complex, she wasn’t prepared Tuesday to vote in favor of the project as proposed.

“My comfort level wasn’t really there yet,” Sheffield said. She added that as a former Harbortown resident for more than five years, she understands some of the concerns regarding the views, green space and congestion.

“I do think the management and the developer have made progress as far as addressing the concerns of the residents, but there still is an overwhelming amount of residents that had outstanding issues,” she said.

Representatives for AF Jonna Development did not immediately return a call seeking comment. 

Owner of the development, Arkan Jonna, had said previously that his company is addressing some of the residents' concerns, including beefing up security, planning green space within the development with hundreds of shrubs and trees as well as taking steps to help alleviate flooding within the complex. 

According to the city, the Waters Edge II is expected to be completed in 12-16 months. It will include a five-story, 202-unit apartment building and 11 townhomes with parking on 6.88 acres on the east side of the complex. 

Resident Janet Bobby said Tuesday she’s disappointed with the decision. When the new townhomes and apartment building are built, she figures she’ll lose about two-thirds of the views she has, which includes the Detroit River and the marina.

“I feel that some compromise, some kind of concern for the residents here could have been acknowledged,” Bobby said. “We have kept this place up.”

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