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Developers, officials celebrate Midtown Detroit apartment-retail complex

Posted By: The Detroit News on September 28, 2022.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.


A decade ago, developers set out with plans to construct an office building on the corner of Woodward and Stinson in Midtown. After they scrapped those plans and pivoted to residential, Woodward West welcomed its first tenants during the summer.

“I know a lot of people said, ‘Well, is it ever going to get done?’” said developer Chris Jackson, co-principal and managing partner of Queen Lillian. “There was always this sign up there, but we never gave up faith. … We hung in there.”

On Wednesday, Jackson and his business partners James Jenkins Jr, co-principal and partner of Queen Lillian, and Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of The Platform, were joined by Mayor Mike Duggan and other local officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $60 million development.

Woodward West at 3439 Woodward Ave. has 204 residential units and features a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units. Of the units, 20% are set aside as affordable housing for those with incomes at 80% of the area median income. The units are 80% leased less than three months after opening with 95% of the affordable units already leased, developers said.

“I don’t know how to put in context how extraordinary that is,” said Cummings. “Cause I’ve developed a lot of different markets, growth markets in Florida and North Carolina, and the performance of this project really outstretched them all.”

The property also features 25,000 square feet of retail space. Among the upcoming retail tenants are the Eagle Food & Beer Hall, a Southern-style fried chicken and craft beer restaurant, and Sugaring NYC, a waxing and lash studio. Both are expected to open in spring 2023. Developers say another 2,700 square feet of retail space will be announced soon.

When Jackson first planned to develop the site, he said there was no M-1 Rail along Woodward, Mike Ilitch School of Business or Little Caesars Arena.

“This corridor on Woodward from Mack to (Interstate) 375 was barren” he recalled. “It was empty. Jim and I had a vision that it could be something. So we did approach the city. We had some grandiose ideas of wanting to be able to do another office building here …”

Duggan said that when he heard the developers had plans for an office building at the site, he suggested they go with a residential development instead. He acknowledged those involved in the project and their ties to the city.

“If you look at the way this team has executed it … they’re basically a neighborhood team, right?” Duggan said. “Rainy Hamilton, who designed this, his office is over in Paradise Valley, half a mile away. You’ve got Izegbe N’Namdi, who you can walk to her place. She curated the art here and Todd Sachse’s construction company is right across the street. I mean, this is how much talent we have in this community.

“Not only were the owners from Detroit, but the people who did this project were from Detroit and they built something that fits so beautifully into the city,” Duggan continued. “So now we have 200 more housing units. It doesn’t surprise me at all they’re 80% leased up right now.”

Rents for a one-bedroom start at $1,064 for the affordable units and $1,750 for the market-rate units.  Building amenities include: an outdoor recreational roof deck, a lounge with TV, pool table and kitchenette, a theater with surround sound and a fitness center with saunas.  The complex also features the artwork from 41 artists of color with ties to Detroit. It was curated by N’Namdi, executive director of The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Midtown.

Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, said the development is a job well done.

“It is a highest-quality development that you will find anywhere in this region,” he said. “I’ll put it up against any project in Birmingham, in Ferndale, in Farmington Hills. I’ll put it up against any project, quite frankly, in America, and I’ve seen a lot of them.”

The project received the support of the Michigan Economic Development Corp through a Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan of $5.3 million. The Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit, through the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., approved a $2.2 million loan. The project’s senior lender was CIBC Bank and during the early predevelopment stages, nonprofits Capital Impact Partners and Invest Detroit also provided loans.

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