Detroit project to turn empty eyesore into apartment homes

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — For about 20 years, the row of townhomes at Porter and Hubbard has been a dangerous eyesore, with their crumbling red bricks posing a threat to passersby.

A $4.57 million project that kicked off Tuesday will renovate the Hubbard Farms building known as the Murray into 12 apartments. Work is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

Developer W. Emery Matthews speaks during a press conference to announce the renovation of The Murray, a set of rowhomes in the Hubbard Farms neighborhood of Detroit, July 7, 2020.

“Most of the people who live in this neighborhood know that this property has been abandoned for a long time …” said developer W. Emery Matthews with Real Estate Interests LLC. “I grew up walking by buildings exactly like this. And sometimes you can’t help but think if how the building looks matches how people perceive you. I recognize how important it is to be a part of some type of revitalization.”

Matthews was joined Tuesday by Mayor Mike Duggan and others involved in the effort to renovate the 16,404-square-foot building at 4004 Porter St. in southwest Detroit The Hubbard Farms neighborhood is one of 10 included in the mayor’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund initiative.

Duggan said the renovation of the Murray building will join other revitalization efforts nearby, including investments in Clark Park and Riverside Park and renovation along Bagley Street in Mexicantown.

Duggan said it's time to focus on residential projects that can revitalize empty structures.

“What we are trying to do is fill our vacant buildings and not replace them,” he said.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan listens to a press conference to announce the renovation of The Murray, a set of row homes in the Hubbard Farms neighborhood of Detroit, July 7, 2020.

The Murray project calls for turning the previous seven units of housing into 12 units. Three of the units will be set aside as affordable, with rents based on 60% of the area median, Matthews said. Rents will range from about $600 to $1,500 per month, he said.

The project has received financing from the Detroit Neighborhoods Fund through Capital Impact Partners and the Strategic Neighborhood Fund through Invest Detroit, officials said. 

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund and Affordable Housing Leverage Fund have raised $57 million to help revitalize 10 neighborhoods throughout the city through the creation of affordable housing, park and streetscape beautification, and commercial corridor improvements.

Tim Thorland, executive director of Southwest Housing Solutions, said the Murray project will turn a blighted building into an asset. His organization renovated two previously abandoned apartment buildings nearby.

"These projects significantly advance the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood and enhance the quality of life of its residents," he said.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN