Lee Plaza and Woodland Apartments, two of Detroit’s architectural gems, will get a second lease on life and offer housing assistance for low-income earners if developers step up for the project.
The City of Detroit and the Detroit Building Authority are seeking proposals to redevelop the two historic apartment buildings. The two projects will include nearly 250 mixed-income units in some of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods.
The city is requiring developers to set aside more than 20 percent of the units in each building for individuals making $38,000 a year or less at Woodland Apartments and Lee Plaza.
“For years these buildings have been seen as a symbol of our city’s decline. In partnership with developers in the community, they will become examples of the city’s resurgence that is now reaching into more neighborhoods and becoming more accessible to people of all income levels,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “We’ve seen progress in the areas around both Lee Plaza and Woodland Apartments. While these are challenging projects, these buildings can become major anchors in these communities.”
Lee Plaza (see lead photo) was constructed in 1928 as a luxury apartment hotel, featuring amenities such as a concierge and room service. Vacant since 1997, it is located in the NW Goldberg neighborhood, near New Center, the Henry Ford Health System campus and LaSalle Gardens and Woodbridge.
Rehabilitating the building with its approximately 200 units and the adjacent vacant lots could help expand development to the entire West Grand Blvd. corridor from M-10 to I-96. The city is asking $295,000 for the building and surrounding land, a total of about 1.68 acres.
More than 20 percent of the redeveloped units in Lee Plaza will be reserved as affordable units for those making 80 percent of the area median income. Affordable units would go for about $900 a month. The city expects the Lee Plaza redevelopment to take 2-5 years.
“This redevelopment is part of our strategy to grow the city in a way that is equitable and includes everyone,” says Arthur Jemison, director of housing and revitalization for the City of Detroit. “Our goal here is to attract new residents with newly renovated apartments that include affordable rents and retain long-time residents in the area by supporting projects that will spur additional investment and create strong anchors in the neighborhoods.”
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Lee Plaza qualifies for Federal Historic Tax Credits.
The Woodland Apartments building is in the Gateway Community neighborhood on Woodland St. just east of Woodward, north of the Boston Edison neighborhood. The four-story, 44-unit building was built in 1923 but has been vacant since the 1990s.
The city is looking for developers who will renovate the existing building or potentially demolish and redevelop the site. As with Lee Plaza, the development will be required to make more than 20 percent of the total units affordable at 80 percent of the area median income, or about $1,000 for a one bedroom and $1,200 for a two bedroom.
The city is also encouraging developers to consider the site for permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Redevelopment of the site will take 1-3 years.
The City expects the redevelopment will spur additional investment in the area and spread new projects past Boston Edison and into adjacent neighborhoods.
Both projects will be encouraged to apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the city is considering investment in both properties with federal HOME and CDBG funds and other funds from the Housing and Revitalization Department.
— Top photo: Lee Plaza