$60 million mixed-use development The Boulevard opens in Detroit's New Center

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The site of a former surface parking lot in New Center has found new use as a $60 million mixed-use development that officials believe will meet the growing need for apartments and retail in the area.

Developer The Platform, Mayor Mike Duggan and supporters celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Thursday for the development known as The Boulevard at Third Avenue and West Grand Boulevard.

The 356,000 square-foot building with 231 apartment units and 17,500 square feet of retail space is the first ground-up development of its kind in the area in 30 years, officials said.

The Boulevard, which celebrated its opening in Detroit Thursday, has a large courtyard space on the second floor.   The Boulevard offers 231 apartments with a variety of studio, 1- and 2-bedroom layouts.

“We’re very proud of the finished product that we have here,” said Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of The Platform while standing in the building’s interior courtyard. “We took a surface parking lot that we bought from Henry Ford Health System, and we’ve turned it into a productive property with new housing, retail and well-concealed parking.”

The building has studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Some of the one-bedroom units include a den for those who need extra space, said Clarke Lewis, The Platform's project lead on the project.

Most of the units have balconies with views of the interior community courtyard or outward to the city's landscape. Each apartment has kitchens with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops as well as walk-in closets and in-unit washer and dryers.

The Baltimore style apartment at The Boulevard has 687-760 square feet with one bedroom and one bathroom.

Building amenities include a fitness center, lounge with a pool table and attached parking with 330 spaces. Businesses in the retail space include Orangetheory Fitness and Beyond Juice.

Duggan said a lot of progress has been made in the New Center area in recent years spreading north from Midtown. Just a few years ago, storefronts on Woodward near West Grand Boulevard were mostly boarded up.

“There wasn’t much going on here,” Duggan said. “The idea that somebody would need to build 231 new residential units in the New Center to accommodate people who want to move in shows how far the progress is being made.”

Duggan highlighted the new Pistons Performance Center nearby, the Motown Museum's expansion and the Platform’s Chroma project down the street, which is transforming a former cold storage building into a co-working space and food hall.

“We’ve got a neighborhood of vibrancy,” he said.

The Boulevard is just one of several projects The Platform has in the greater New Center area. Cummings noted his company has invested about $500 million so far in the four neighborhoods within the district: New Center, Tech Town, Milwaukee Junction and North End.

“We respect that each neighborhood is different,” he said. “They have different histories and different cultures. Our goal is to build on the history and culture that we find and to connect these neighborhoods so that taken together they create an important center of gravity for our city.”

Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Inc., said with Henry Ford Health System’s 12,000 employees working in the area and the Detroit Pistons bringing 300 employees to the area, The Boulevard development supports the growing workforce.

“I think it’s a critical connection for Henry Ford over into the New Center area to the main hospital,” Mosey said. “This neighborhood, like Midtown, is like 98% occupied on rental housing,so we definitely have a shortfall of housing for people who want to move here."

Mosey said that the project provides large-scale, well-located housing with lots of amenities including commercial space.

"I believe it’s going to attract a lot more Henry Ford folks to actually move here into the neighborhood," she said.

Twenty percent of the units are set aside as affordable and are identical to the market-rate units, Cummings said.

“The only difference is the rent you pay,” he said. 

Rental rates include $1,250 to $1,325 a month for a studio unit, $1,650 to $1,870 a month for a one-bedroom unit and $2,475 to $2,700 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. 

The site was formerly a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge and later the New Center Pavilion for the Henry Ford Hospital before it was imploded in 1997 for surface parking. 

Funding for The Boulevard was made possible through financial partners Invest Detroit, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and Fifth Third Bank. The project, previously called Third and Grand, received a $2 million state loan in 2016. 

Keona Cowan, chief lending officer for Invest Detroit, a non-profit lender, said she considers the Boulevard development catalytic for the area. 

"All of the projects that The Platform is doing is attracting residents and building businesses," she said. "This is why Invest Detroit continues to be excited, eager and committed to being a part of this project and others like."


Twitter @CWilliams_DN