Vote on Detroit townhouse delayed as developer withdraws request
Detroit — A vote on a brownfield plan for a multi-unit townhouse building in Detroit's Islandview neighborhood has been delayed again.
The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, on behalf of K8 Development LLC, withdrew a request for a brownfield plan for the Field Street development during the Detroit City Council meeting Tuesday as a separate developer it's linked with works through blight-violation issues with the city.
At issue was the potential impact of developer Reimer Priester’s blight-ticket issues as he undertakes a scattered 40 single-family and duplex home development in the city's West Village neighborhood. K8 Development LLC’s parent company, Astral Development, is a passive investor in that project.
“When we heard that on a different project with a different team that this developer was affiliated with had these outstanding tickets and was working through the consent agreement, we felt that it was prudent to hold off on a vote and withdraw the brownfield plan — thereby allowing this team to work through the city’s process to reach a consent agreement,” said Sarah Pavelko, director of real estate and financial services for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. “It’s not something that can be reached overnight. Rather than keep coming back to council over a several-weeks period, let’s let them work through that with the city.”
The City Council was to vote Tuesday on a brownfield plan for the 2119 Field Street Redevelopment Project, an eight-unit townhome complex at Field and Kercheval. The plan would reimburse property taxes to the developer K8 Development LLC for up to 30 years.
Instead, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority decided Tuesday to withdraw the request until blight matters were cleared with the affiliated developer, Priester.
"Though this may not be directly attributed to this particular project, it's now part of the conversation based upon the partnership," said City Councilman James Tate. "So we have to make sure that we of course listen to the community, and that sounds like that's what you're doing with the withdrawal and I look forward to additional conversation with the community directly."
According to the city, Priester has paid 63 blight tickets valued at $23,000 and is working with the city's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department to identify for which among a potential $38,000 in blight violations he is responsible.
"We will be paying significant amounts of these blight fees probably immediately afterward, once we understand what the real number of blight tickets we're responsible for following this consent agreement," Priester said.
The withdrawal Tuesday was another delay for the 2119 Field Street project which has been met with both support and criticism. The City Council postponed its vote last week after residents took issue with the project, with some saying the rents would be so unaffordable that they’d rather the property remain empty.
The nearly $2.5 million development is below the threshold to trigger the city’s community benefits ordinance that would require the developer to work out a benefits package for the community. Through an agreement with the city, the developer will set aside two of the eight units as affordable based on the area median income.
Some residents have said the developer has been dismissive of their concerns while the DEGC said the developer has had numerous meeting with the community.
"They have never outright said no," said Brian Vosburg, brownfield redevelopment manager for the DEGC. "They have taken everything back, taken the time to research it and only if it was not feasible would they say no. They've been very diligent in considering community feedback on this project."
The townhomes at 2119 Field Street have sat empty for about 10 years and were once open to the elements. In the fall, the developer began pre-construction work on the project with the expectation to complete construction in late summer 2020.
Vosburg said that there is no timeline for when the brownfield plan would be resubmitted to the council for approval. Adam Schloff of Astral Development, has said that the brownfield plan, valued at $279,000, is needed to make the project viable.