Big Changes Coming To Brush Park Thanks To Proposed $70 Million Housing Development

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A once stately neighborhood that housed names like David Whitney, J.L. Hudson and Albert Kahn, just outside of the Central Business District of Detroit (and across the freeway from Comerica Park), is about to get a new infusion of investment.

Brush Park, settled in the 1860s, is getting a $70 million, 8.4-acre, 47-parcel new residential development in Detroit’s historic Brush Park neighborhood as a four-block area of Brush Park  will be completely transformed under a new development agreement between the City of Detroit and Brush Park Development Partners, LLC.

The redevelopment plan calls for 337 units of new residential that will be in short proximity to the new M1-Rail that is under construction as well as the new arena for the Detroit Red Wings.

A focus of the new development is the restoration of four historic Brush Park mansions, including the Ransom Gillis home at 205 Alfred Street, built between 1876 and 1878 for the wholesale dry goods merchant. The property has passed though the hands of four upper-income families between 1876 and 1919 until being converted into a rooming house, along with most of the other structures on the street.

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“Each of these homes has its own incredible story and plays an important role in our city’s history,” said Mayor Duggan. “As we rebuild our city, we are going to continue to preserve as much of our history as possible.” 

Among the partners of Brush Park Development Partners, LLC are: Marvin Beatty, Darrell Burks, Freman Hendrix, Pamela Rodgers, Sam Thomas, and Dan Gilbert owned Bedrock Development.

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Detroit Residents, Affordable Housing Part Of Plan

Affordable housing, according to the Mayor’s office, is built into the plan with at least 20 percent of the residential. This new mixed-income development includes residential concepts such as apartments, townhomes, and flats among the multi-family housing options. Both for-sale and for-rent options will be available.

Out of nine proposals received, the proposal by Brush Park Development Partners, LLC had a few additional items that put them ahead of the pack. Those included used Detroit-based contractors and construction works. 51 percent of the workers hired are to be Detroiters and 31 percent of the construction cost will go to Detroit-based contractors.

This could be a signal of a return to a practice that ended during former Mayor Dennis Archer’s administration. Major projects with city involvement have defined carve-outs for local residents and businesses.

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One-fifth of the units (20 percent) are to be set aside for affordable housing. What exactly does affordable mean? We’re told that it’s for those at or below 80 percent of the area’s median income, which calculates to about $21,000/year.

“We are thrilled to be part of one of the most significant residential projects in Detroit in decades,” said Steve Rosenthal, principal, Brush Park Development Partners, LLC and Bedrock Development. “Working closely with our experienced Detroit-based partners and advisors, we’re confident that our proposal will be a catalyst for revitalizing Brush Park and connecting it to Midtown and Downtown and most importantly, providing jobs and a wide range of new residential and retail options for thousands of Detroiters.”

Also in the Brush Park area, and announced earlier this year, was a rehabilitation plan of the Brewster Wheeler recreation center that will include a restaurant. Another development, The Scott at Brush Park, is putting in 201 market-rate apartments next to the former Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe at Erskine and Woodward.

As for the Brush Park project, restoration on the historic houses is expected to begin this summer, and work on the new residential construction also is expected to begin by the end of 2015. Completion of the project is expected to be in 2017.

City Council approval is still required, and some details could be tweaked in the process. Although questions are often raised and details finalized, council usually green lights projects like this.

With all of this activity due to be completed by 2017, this area of the city will look very different than it does today — a speed of change not seen in decades, and reminiscent of the halcyon boom times, even if it’s for now contained in a couple square miles. 

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