Artist rendering of a new housing and retail development set to be built on the northwest corner of John R and Garfield. It will include units for low income residents. Credit: Develop Detroit

The City of Detroit announced Tuesday that ground has been broken on a $36.3-million housing and retail development in the historic Sugar Hill Arts District in Midtown. The project will include units for low income residents.

This story also appeared in Detroit Free Press

The project is one of the final projects by the late architect Phil Freelon, who is known for  his work on the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., among other high-profile projects.

Set to build on the northwest corner of John R and Garfield streets, 14 out of 68 apartments will be set aside for residents who earn 30% to 60% of the area average median income. Some units also will be available to formerly homeless veterans who are part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing program.

The development — by Preservation of Affordable Housing, a nonprofit with offices in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and Develop Detroit, a Detroit-based real estate company — will open late next year, the city said in a news release.

Rents could range from $441 to $883 for a one-bedroom unit, based on April 2020 income and rent limits for Wayne County.

“This development not only will become home to Detroiters of all walks of life, but is also one that reflects the needs and desires of our neighbors in the community,” Sonya Mays, president and CEO of Develop Detroit, said in the release.

Along with residential units, the building will offer 11,900 square feet of retail space and 164 parking spots, and an outdoor green space.

The project is one of the final projects by Freelon, who died in 2019. In addition to his National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Freelon is known for Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights, among other projects.

In 2020, the Sugar Hill Arts District was designated as a national and local historic district because of its roots as a hub of Detroit jazz and African American establishments.

“This project will help kick off an exciting new era for Sugar Hill and add an inclusive development to the neighborhood that will bring much-needed housing, not only for the growing number of Midtown residents, but also for our veterans,” Donald Rencher, director of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, said in the release.

In September 2016, the Housing and Revitalization Department sought bids for a project offering housing for Detroiters of various income levels, ground-floor retail and a parking structure for residents and customers of nearby businesses.

The project is a combination of public-private partnerships, according to the release, including:

  •  The City of Detroit: $2 million from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, $1.71 million in community development block grants, $6.7 million from a Section 108 loan for the parking structure.
  • The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Strategic Fund: $4 million from the Community Revitalization Program and $2.25 million in Michigan Brownfield Tax Credits.
  • PNC Bank: $9.8 million in New Market Tax Credit equity and a $4 million first mortgage.
  • Prudential Financial: $5 million in financing.
  • Home Depot Foundation: $250,000 to assist with housing for veterans.
  • Quicken Loans Community Fund: $300,000

Nushrat Rahman covers issues related to economic mobility for the Detroit Free Press and BridgeDetroit as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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