Heard on All Things Considered

Detroit to Receive $30 Million to Build Apartments and Residential Units in Corktown

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Image credit: Courtesy of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU)

​City officials said the three development projects will reserve more than 160 apartments as “deeply affordable.” That means a two-person household with a total income of less than $19,000 per year would be able to live there.

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Detroit is receiving $30 million in federal funding to build 840 new housing units — with 500 set aside under the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s “affordable” housing guidelines — in Corktown.

The city was selected by HUD as part of the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the money will toward three projects in the neighborhood, including new apartments near the Michigan Central Station on Michigan Avenue. Ford is building a new 30-acre campus in Corktown.

“We have not had gentrification as it’s defined, people of higher income pushing out people of lower income in the City of Detroit. But if there was an area we were starting to see it, it was Corktown,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday.City of Detroit/Flickr
City of Detroit/Flickr

We have not had gentrification as it’s defined, people of higher income pushing out people of lower income in the City of Detroit. But if there was an area we were starting to see it, it was Corktown,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Mike Duggan said the effort is meant to address rising rents in the neighborhood.

We have not had gentrification as it’s defined, people of higher income pushing out people of lower income in the City of Detroit. But if there was an area we were starting to see it, it was Corktown,” Duggan said.

City officials say the federal funding will help keep people with different income levels in Corktown even as new development triggers a sharp increase in rents and housing prices.

Under the plan, the projects will reserve more than 160 apartments as “deeply affordable.” That means a two-person household with a total income of less than $19,000 per year would be able to live there. Additionally, 40% of the new units will be reserved for households earning no more than $50,000 for a two-person household; 20% will serve households earning no more than $76,000; and the remaining 20% will be rented at market rate.

All of the residents of [Clement Kern Gardens affordable housing site] will … have the right to choose whether or not they want to live in any of the other housing developments that the mayor’s set within the neighborhood.” — Julie Schneider, acting director of the city’s Housing & Revitalization Department

The HUD funding will go toward three projects: one at the former site of Tiger Stadium; another on various vacant lots north of Corktown; and at Clement Kern Gardens, a series of townhouses nearby on Bagley Street.

A new $29 million, 120-unit development with 48 units of affordable housing is part of the first phase of development on the 3.7-acre site at left field of the former ballpark. Work on the project, developed by American Community Developers, will begin this summer.

In North Corktown, 143 vacant lots owned by the city will get new infill housing. The plan also calls for a neighborhood service center and recreation area to be built at the former Owen School.

Donald Rencher is group executive for the City of Detroit's Housing, Planning and Development.City of Detroit/Flickr
City of Detroit/Flickr

Donald Rencher is group executive for the City of Detroit’s Housing, Planning and Development.

Julie Schneider, the acting director of the city’s Housing & Revitalization Department, said the Clement Kern Gardens apartments will be demolished before being rebuilt. The 7-acre site has 87 townhome-style units of affordable housing. According to the city, when it was built in 1985, the site was isolated, surrounded by berms and a fence, and streets were cut off. Under the plan, the structures would be razed and rebuilt.

All of the residents of the current site will have the right to return. They’ll have the right to choose whether or not they want to live in any of the other housing developments that the mayor’s set within the neighborhood,” she said.

Ford is building a $740 million campus in Corktown anchored by the Michigan Central Station. The company expects 5,000 employees to work there. Ford is also contributing to the city’s community benefits program.

I can’t even explain the magnitude of coming to Detroit,” said Donald Rencher, group executive for the City of Detroit’s Housing, Planning and Development, “bringing employment to the city and their large investment here.”

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Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

eli.newman@wdet.org Follow @other_eli

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