Detroit's former United Artists Building headed for $75M redevelopment into mixed-income housing

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The historic United Artists Building that once served as a theater in the city's downtown will soon be home to nearly 150 mixed-income apartments in a $75 million redevelopment.

The Black-led project aims to transform the nearly century-old building shuttered for almost 50 years on Bagley Street into 148 apartments, 20% of which will be allocated as affordable housing at 80% the area median income.

Slated to open in late 2023, residents can expect one- and two-bedroom units will be up to 1,300 square feet and 10,000 square feet of retail and dining space along Bagley.

Rendering of the 18-story building at 150 Bagley, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Dubbed "The Residences @ 150 Bagley" the project is expected to bring hundreds of construction jobs to the city and more residents to Grand Circus Park, said Mayor Mike Duggan.

He and Bagley Development Group officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the vacant skyscraper at 150 Bagley Street on Thursday saying it is another iconic image of blight and abandonment being turned into beauty.

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"I'm so proud that we have a development team that truly represents our city turning this great building into new housing, with 20% of the units reserved for Detroiters of lower incomes," Duggan said in a statement. "This project would not have been possible without the leadership of Chris Ilitch and the partnership of HUD, the State of Michigan, our Department of Housing and Revitalization and others. This is a great day for Detroit.”

The 18-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by C. Howard Crane and opened in 1928.

Developers joked about the seven-year process for the development. Construction was expected to start in 2020 prior to the pandemic and be completed already. 

"Oftentimes, Mayor Duggan would say 'Where are we with 150 Bagley?' Well, here we are. We finally did it," said Michael Polsinelli, Detroit field director for HUD.

Dubbed "The Residences" at 150 Bagley is expected to bring hundreds of construction projects to the city and more residents to Grand Circus Park.

Bagley Development's renovation of the Olympia Development property ensured that the historic building will shine alongside the developing activity in the area. Projects include Little Caesars' corporate headquarters, the Eddystone Residences, the redevelopment of seven Henry Street residential properties, renovation of the Women's City Club Building and the Detroit Center for Innovation being built in partnership with the University of Michigan.

Bringing the building back to life will be costly, officials said. The project received $43 million in Housing and Uban Development multifamily housing loans, $8.5 million from the Downtown Development Authority, $7 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund and $3 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding.

Detroit-based Brinker/Christman will be the project's construction manager and Michigan-based Hobbs + Black is the project's architect.

“I had hope for the rehab of this building for more than 30 years,” Polsinelli said. "This groundbreaking shows a great public and private partnership. This is not a small investment ... . We have all come such a long way rehabbing vacant buildings across the city and 150 Bagley is an important part of that puzzle.”

Twitter: @SarahRahal_