Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood improvement plan presented Thursday

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

It’s been nearly a year since several hundred residents and business owners first gathered to give input on what they wanted to see in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood on Detroit's east side.

A culmination of that meeting and the monthly sessions that followed will be revealed at 6 p.m. Thursday when Jefferson East Inc. and its development arm, East Jefferson Development Corporation, unveil the Jefferson-Chalmers Mainstreet Master Plan. Those interested in watching the virtual presentation can sign up at this link.

A rendering of the IDAO apartments at 910 Marlborough in Detroit's Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood. It will have eight units.

“The good news about the plan is it shouldn’t be a surprise to residents…,” said Derric Scott, CEO of EJDevCo. “They informed this plan over the last several months, over the last year really, so the plan is really reflective of all of the work the community and putting that into a vision that’s articulated in a way that anyone who comes into the corridor whether they’re a community member or they’re actively seeking to develop, do work in the corridor will know what the vision is. It gives us the ability to evolve it over the next several years.”

The boundaries for the study included about 70 acres along East Jefferson Avenue corridor between Alter Road and Lenox Street. 

In early planning meetings, residents said they wanted to see improvements including the development of abandoned properties, the restoration of the Vanity Ballroom and a grocery store.

Input came from residents who have lived in the neighborhood their whole lives as well as new arrivals, said Josh Elling, CEO of Jefferson East Inc.

This is a rendering of the former Kresge store at 14300 Jefferson that's  expected to open in September and will serve as a Jefferson East Inc. neighborhood resource hub. The organization is looking for a restaurant tenant for the front of the building.

“We’ve taken real attention to reach out to the wisdom that’s there…,” he said. “At the same time there are a lot of new folks that have moved to Jefferson Chalmers wanting to support their new neighborhood. That wonderful fusion of longstanding residents coupled with a new vision we’ve been able to pull into this master plan. It’s been heartening and powerful to see.”

Elling sad he expects the master plan will inform the work that Jefferson East Inc. and Jefferson Development Corporation does for the next 10 to 15 years.

Among those that provided feedback was Minnie Lester who has lived in the neighborhood since 1973.

“We need restaurants, we need the stores, we need housing, affordable housing,” Lester said. “We need the area cleaned up and different things that would be beneficial for the homeowners that are down in this area.”

This is a rendering of the Marlborough at 1031 Marlborough in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood on Detroit's east side. It will have 15 units.

The neighborhood has seen improvements in recent years with new businesses along Jefferson including Norma G’s, Yellow Light Donut and Pink Poodle Dress Lounge.

Jefferson Chalmers is one of 10 neighborhoods targeted under the city’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund, a philanthropic partnership that's helping to redevelop communities throughout the city. The city completed a neighborhood framework plan a little more than a year ago with community inpuc.

Within a few months the neighborhood will see additional housing with two renovated apartment buildings with deep affordability. The first phase of its Jefferson-Chalmers Main Street Redevelopment Project includes two apartment buildings on Marlborough expected to be complete in the fall.

The Marlborough Apartments north of Jefferson will feature 15 units. The IDAO building south of Jefferson will have eight units. The rental rate for 11 of the units will be based on 50-60% of the area median income.

The former Kresge store at 14300 Jefferson is expected to open in September and will serve as a Jefferson East Inc. neighborhood resource hub. The organization is looking for a restaurant tenant for the front of the building.

There are also plans to secure financing to renovate the long-vacant Vanity Ballroom on Jefferson. The goal is to begin construction by 2022, said Scott. 

Operating a business on Jefferson has gone well for Lee Padgett, owner of the Busted Bra Shop on Jefferson. She said she relocated one of two of her Detroit locations to Jefferson-Chalmers after being priced out of Midtown.

“It’s much busier there,” Padgett said of Jefferson-Chalmers. “The neighborhood really likes stores being there. People walk over from blocks away and there’s plenty of places to park.”

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN