The Dig: Latest Bedrock renovation, Packard Plant ...

The Dig: Latest Bedrock renovation, Packard Plant scrutiny and next steps for Proposal N

bedrock renovation free press building

The Press/321 rooftop pool image courtesy of Bedrock

Welcome to the Nov. 11 edition of The Dig, a weekly newsletter bringing you all the dirt on real estate, housing and development in Detroit. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Wednesday.

Now that Proposal N, the $250-million initiative to curb blight in Detroit, has passed… what’s next? We had some questions about how it’s all going to roll out over the next weeks and months and asked Arthur Jemison, Detroit’s chief of services and infrastructure, if he could answer them. Read what he had to say below. 

We also got a tour of the redeveloped Detroit Free Press Building (now called The Press/321) from Bedrock and wrote about the impressive transformation. It’s always a cause for celebration when an Albert Kahn building is saved. 

The Detroit Free Press Building, now The Press/321. Credit: Bedrock Detroit


Bedrock successfully salvages another historic building

After the paper left in 1998, the Detroit Free Press Building sat vacant for over 20 years. No longer.

Bedrock Detroit, which has redeveloped numerous buildings downtown, recently welcomed tenants back into the Art Deco gem designed by Albert Kahn. We took a tour of the building and got a first-hand look at the impressive transformation. Read more.


What’s next for Proposal N? 

The city pushed hard for the $250 million blight bond. And in return it got the overwhelming support of voters. Proposal N passed by a wide margin (70% to 30%), giving Mayor Mike Duggan a clear mandate to to eliminate as much blight as possible.

The broad strokes of the initiative have been laid out. The city of Detroit will issue $250 million in bonds to demolish 8,000 homes. Around $90 million will be spent securing 6,000 of them. 

But many of the details have yet to be unveiled. So we asked Arthur Jemison, Detroit’s chief of services and infrastructure, if he would fill in some. Here’s what he had to say.

The Dig: Now that the proposal has passed, when can Detroiters expect work to start? 
Jemison: We hope to start work in the 2nd quarter of 2021.

When will we see a map of the demolitions and rehabs? 
We would expect the first maps to come out of the bidding process. Those specific properties for the bidding documents are being identified now.

How is the city determining which homes will be demolished first?
The priority for demolitions are those that have occupied homes on both sides. Then near parks and schools.

When will you start issuing contracts for rehabs? Do you have a list of approved contractors?
We are looking to issue contracts for rehab after demolitions go out. We do not yet have a list of approved contractors.

What will the interest rates on the bonds be?
The interest rate will depend on the market at the time of the sale, but the City’s conservative assumptions include taxable and tax exempt bonds sold at rates between 5-6%.

We’ll be continuing to look at how the city carries out it blight remediation plan. Have more questions about demolitions or rehab in Detroit? Just email aaron@detourdetroiter.com.


>>As part of the sale of the State Fairgrounds, the city has said that the three historic buildings at the site would have to be demolished. Not everyone agrees. “It doesn’t even require imagination to come up with a viable use for the State Fair buildings,” writes Amy Elliott Bragg. “The [Joe Dumars] Fieldhouse is already there.” (Crain’s)

>>After it was recently reported that the Peruvian owner of the Packard Plant hoped to sell or lease the enormous complex, Crain’s delved into the weeds to look into exactly how much the current plan would cost. Answer? A lot. (Crain’s)

>>Plans are underway to build an eight-story luxury apartment building in Paradise Valley downtown. The Randolph Avenue building called Hastings Place would consist of 90 units and ground-floor retail. The latest plans were made public during a recent City Planning Commission hearing, but the development was first announced all the way back in 2016. (Freep)

>>Brush 8, a condominium project in Brush Park, broke ground this week. The units will start at $600,000 and should be finished by the end of 2021. (DBusiness)

>>Downtown Detroit Partnership CEO Eric Larson forecasts a two-year recovery for downtown and Midtown Detroit businesses and real estate developments in the wake of the pandemic. (Crain’s)

>>For all the fear-mongering from the Trump administration about how low-income housing is ruining the suburbs, there’s little evidence that it has much of an effect. One case in suburban Milwaukee illustrates how resident fears didn’t match results. (NYTimes)


Only in Palmer Park

If you’re not a member of the Historic Detroit Area Architecture Facebook group, I have only one question for you: Why not? The page is an incredible resource for buildings in Metro Detroit, with posts typically including information about the architect, date built or demolished, several photos, and other unique details. 

Take a recent post about the Coronado Apartments, a stunning Spanish Revival apartment building designed by Wiedmaier & Gay in 1928. See the post for all the pretty pics. 

Aaron Mondry is the editor of The Dig and a reporter who covers development, housing, architecture, real estate and land use in Detroit. He was previously the editor of Curbed Detroit.