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Detroit — Nearly 50 years after it was developed, the former Elmwood Park Plaza will receive a top-to-bottom renovation and additional amenities including a swimming pool, grilling area and state-of-the-art wellness and fitness center.

Officials gathered Thursday to break ground on the $25 million redevelopment of what's now known as City Club Apartments - Lafayette Park. The project will bring improvements to the 18-story apartment complex at 750 Chene St. in the Rivertown District.

Officials touted the project, saying that 20% of the 202 apartment units will remain affordable for existing tenants. Residents will continue to live in the building while construction is underway. 

“We want to continue to increase and push affordability in the city of Detroit when investment comes to the city, but we also want to make sure that the Detroiters who have been here believe they are a part of this dream and that we are not displacing people,” said Donald Rencher, director of Detroit's Housing and Revitalization Department.

The city and the property owner, City Club Apartment LLC, negotiated a deal in which current residents who qualify for affordable housing were given a chance to stay while paying reduced rent.

In exchange, the Housing and Revitalization Department offered the property owners a 12-year, $1.46 million tax abatement known as an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act exemption.

Forty-five low- and moderate-income residents have taken advantage of the offer, officials said. This includes 19 senior residents on fixed incomes who will receive a unique rental agreements, paying $765 per month with annual rent increases held at 2% for as long as they live in the building. The other 26 residents will pay reduced rents ranging $930 to $1,070, depending on their incomes. Those increases will be capped at 3% for the next 12 years.

Market rate rents will start at $1,250 and go up to $1,550 for a penthouse unit. The prices will vary based on the floor, finishes, view and whether the unit has a balcony, according to the developer. Pre-leasing has begun with new occupancy expected to begin in the spring. 

The former Elmwood Park Plaza was designed in the early 1970s by architect Carl Koch. Officials said at the time, the development was one of the first mixed-use apartment buildings in Michigan and included a Detroit Public Library branch, shopping and a Farmer Jack.

Jonathan Holtzman, co-founder and CEO of City Club Apartments, said the project is personal for him because his father, Toby Holtzman, was among the first developers of the Elmwood Park Plaza nearly 50 years ago.

Holtzman said he’s intent on providing additional housing needed in Detroit as well as renovating the apartment to meet the need for affordable luxury in the city.

“This will show other building owners- redevelop your property,” he said. “It shows that the city will work with you. Then you move forward to the next project, the next project, the next project. What I would like to see is the continued momentum.”

Among the amenities coming to the City Club Apartments include an 18th floor Sky Lounge, zen garden, bark park and dog run, beach volleyball court, lounge seating and cabanas, bike storage and a professional fitness center. 

Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield said she commends Holtzman and his efforts with the city to make the deal work. 

"I'm sure that this will be an anchor in the community," she said. "The ancillary development that's going to take place is something that I'm so so excited about. So thank you for your commitment and your vision."

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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