Introducing “The Map”: TheHUB’s exclusive guide to what and where investment is happening in Detroit

Introducing “The Map”: TheHUB’s exclusive guide to what and where investment is happening in Detroit

Yes, big investments are being made in Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Now you don’t need to be an industry insider to find out who’s behind Detroit’s newest investments or discover which, and where, new transformation efforts are happening. You can find it all here in “The Map,” TheHUB’s definitive guide to neighborhood investments.

In District 5 alone, neighborhood-related investments are sizable – totaling $593.7 million.

Throughout the year, TheHUB will examine and report on local development. Readers can expect to learn details about community projects. We’ll cover those in process and those in pre-development and/or planning stages that are supported by verified spending, not just concepts, as well as construction and completed projects.

Our report detail will include:

  • Thumbnail project descriptions
  • Total investment value
  • Affordable housing unit commitments (inclusionary housing)
  • Minority contractor awards
  • Anticipated job creation

This month we begin with District 5, represented by Detroit City Council member Mary Sheffield and the Duggan administration’s Department of Neighborhoods District Manager Vince Keenan and Deputy District Manager Kya Robertson. In District 5 alone, neighborhood-related investments are sizable – totaling $593.7 million.

TheHUB examined quite a few projects in the district, but did not include Midtown or downtown developments, or scattered-site projects, which will be published later at

We also excluded from this report larger, more prominent developments, which have already generated extensive media coverage or, in some cases, merit more in-depth coverage.

Among developments excluded from this month’s review are The District (Little Caesars Arena and related efforts), Eastern Market, and the Brush Park and Brewster-Douglass transformation projects.

We stretched our publication parameters just a tiny bit to look at efforts on the edge of Midtown, such as Baltimore Station, which includes significant commitments to affordable housing and other services for low- and moderate-income residents.

Mayor Mike Duggan stands behind his call to maintain a “city that is big enough, with room for everyone.”

As Mayor Duggan has said, “This city is big enough. There’s room for everyone.”

Using the most conservative industry standard, District 5’s three-dozen projects alone ought to pump at least $1 billion into neighborhoods, in the form of new jobs, contracts and small business growth.

For those who are concerned new growth means displacement for some, there’s good news in  the offing.

More than 38 percent of the additional new construction or refurbished developments have been reserved for affordable housing. That is a whopping 18 percent more than the city’s 20 percent minimum requirement for city-funded or supported housing developments.

The city’s housing and planning and development departments, along with the mayor’s office, were consulted and, in many cases, helped verify the details included in this report.

Just as important, countless investors happily stepped up to make sure our analysis contained an accurate portrayal of the efforts we spotlighted.

A number of community development financial institutions and nonprofits also weighed in.

TheHUB thanks them all and, most particularly, our sponsors who generously support this effort.

The story of Detroit’s neighborhood resurgence is just beginning. We will add additional development efforts and updates along the way.

There is a lot going on in Detroit neighborhoods. We are pleased to share their progress with you.

Editor’s note: Our next issue of The Map will detail developments in District 2, located in Northwest Detroit. If your organization has a project that might be included in “The Map,” please forward a description to our project manager and TheHUB’s director of neighborhood economic development, Rob Dewaelsche. You can reach him at 313-580-0672 or via email at




The district covers the widest swath of any of Detroit’s seven districts, stretching from the lower east side, up along Woodward Ave. through downtown and Midtown, into the New Center and North End, and west to Boston Edison and Virginia Park.


Residents of District 5 are represented by Detroit City Council member Mary Sheffield while Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration is represented by Vince Keenan, the district manager, the mayor’s person on the front lines to address residents’ questions and concerns.

Both offices stay extremely busy, examining issues like blight, crime and city services. Increasingly, they are addressing opportunities to develop housing and neighborhood commercial projects in a variety of areas across the district.

Mary Sheffield, Detroit City Council Member, District 5.  Photo courtesy City of Detroit

As the chair of the Council’s Standing Committee on Neighborhood and Community Services, Sheffield leads the effort to enact a new city ordinance on inclusionary housing. It would require residential developers who receive public subsidies to include 20 percent or more affordable housing units in their projects, or face financial penalties. Those dollars would go into a new housing trust fund for very low-income households.

Keenan has a leading role to ensure the city’s new Community Benefits Ordinance is implemented with strong community engagement and review processes. The first application of the ordinance occurred in March, in the Rosa Parks-Clairmount neighborhood, related to the proposed Herman Kiefer redevelopment project.

Vince Keenan, Dept. of  Neighborhoods Director, District 5. Photo Paul Engstrom

Last fall Detroit voters chose between two competing ballot proposals to establish a city ordinance requiring developers to make commitments regarding jobs for local residents and contractors, affordable housing and other benefits to the communities immediately surrounding proposed development sites. Voters approved the less rigorous of the two options, Proposal B, which is now city law. The new community benefits ordinance is triggered when developers propose projects valued at $75 million or greater and where developers seek public subsidies of $1 million or more in tax incentives or publicly owned property.


Our analysis of current District 5 neighborhood redevelopment projects did not reveal any clear or persistent evidence of displacement, a primary concern of many long-time Detroit residents.

For the most part, the city’s informal requirement that developers include a minimum of 20 percent of affordable units in overall housing plans funded by public dollars appears to be followed. The exceptions are a few residential projects aimed at market rate units that do not depend on public subsidies, such as tax abatements, tax credits or the purchase of publicly owned property at below market-rate prices.


Based on TheHUB’s analysis, 38 percent, or 318 of the 833 units in the development pipeline, have been reserved for affordable housing. That performance metric alone is nearly double the 20 percent minimum required by the city and does not include 214 units preserved as affordable housing under renovation by new owner/developers.


Planned development in District 5 includes a wide array of projects from complex, multi-year redevelopment like the Herman Kiefer plan, to the construction of new luxury apartments in Lafayette Park.

Developers of large, multi-family properties like the old Colony and Forest Arms Apartments on East Jefferson Avenue or the Marwood Apartments in the North End have preserved affordable housing for families and low-income seniors where market prices might otherwise have displaced residents who live on fixed incomes.

In addition to housing and mixed-use projects, developers are launching impressive urban agricultural businesses, school re-use plans, and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art cancer center that will bring hundreds of jobs into the district.

Highlights include:

Herman Kiefer:

Herman Kiefer
Herman Kiefer

New York-based Studio Castellano is anticipating final approval of its plan to redevelop the vacant city-owned Herman Kiefer complex, located just west of the M-10 Lodge Freeway. The highly regarded developer, with a track record of success in transforming obsolete properties into creative centers of community living, plans to convert the vacant Hutchins School building into an indoor skate park.

Another building will be converted into a hotel to serve the needs of visitors and the neighborhood on Detroit’s central west side near Virginia Park. Later phases will include renovation of the 450,000-square-foot main building for new commercial and office use.

Tiny Homes:

Tiny Home
Tiny Home

Cass Community Social Services started construction of one of the most novel housing projects to come to Detroit in decades, consisting of 25 energy-efficient “tiny houses,” not far from its main offices on Elmhurst and the M-10 Lodge Freeway. If you look closely and to the west when passing the site on the freeway you can see the tiny rooftops of these 300- to 400-square-foot homes beginning to peek out over the horizon. The unique project will provide affordable housing for homeless persons served by the agency.

Packard Plant:

Packard Plant

Investor/developer Fernando Palazuelo and his firm Arte Express announced the $17 million renovation of the historic administration building along E. Grand Blvd. at Mt. Elliott on the eastside just south of the I-94 Ford Fwy.  Renovations are scheduled to begin this spring to create office and commercial space in the 121,000-square-foot facility bringing dozens of new jobs into the area.


Henry Ford Cancer Institute:

Henry Ford Cancer Institute
Henry Ford Cancer Institute

Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) is demonstrating its commitment to maintaining operations in the city in a big way with the announcement of its $110 million investment to construct the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion on the south side of West Grand Boulevard, directly across from its main hospital campus. The development phase will create nearly 600 construction jobs, along with approximately 500 supporting positions. In addition, HFHS will award 30 percent of the value of construction contracts to minority vendors through its supplier diversity program. When open, the facility will create more than 250 new jobs with an annual payroll of $12 million.


Terminology is important and sometimes can be confusing if you’re not a development industry professional. That’s why TheHUB assembled a comprehensive glossary of commonly used terms among community developers. Now everyone can speak the language of development. To learn more click here.

The “Living In and Loving Detroit” Project Team

The Living In and Loving Detroit series is a massive undertaking involving countless hours of research and investigation, as we examine development projects aimed at our city’s neighborhood resurgence.

Making our neighborhoods livable and loveable will be the ultimate test of how far Detroit has come in its economic recovery. These development projects and their ongoing collaboration with the neighborhoods and their residents  are crucial to that revitalization. It is our goal to share the details of these efforts with our readers.

The effort is led by Rob Dewaelsche, TheHUB’s neighborhood economic development director, and Senior Editor Eddie Allen. The project is supported by editor Marge Sorge and art director, Jeanette Williamson.

Robert Dewaelsche

Robert Dewaelsche, neighborhood economic development director
Robert Dewaelsche is a recognized leader in community development. In addition to his role at TheHUB, he is president of Sustainability Knocks, LLC, a consulting and communications firm that helps community-based organizations and faith-based groups access and optimize the resources needed to sustain and grow their organizational capacity, achieve their mission priorities and better serve their consumers, members and the community at large. With more than 35 years of experience in nonprofit and corporate institutions, his passion is working to revitalize economically distressed urban neighborhoods in Detroit.

Prior to his consulting work, Dewaelsche was deputy director at Detroit LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) where he was responsible for managing the field staff, program and grant management, including oversight of the work in five targeted Detroit neighborhoods, and assisting with fund development efforts and long-range strategic planning for the organization. He also has served as executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit and worked at Habitat for Humanity International for five years. In that role he facilitated a national community planning and development pilot program in four cities and was a resource development officer focusing on churches, faith groups and national corporations.

E.B. Allen, senior editor

Eddie Allen

Our highly acclaimed senior editor E.B. (Eddie) Allen has more than 20 years of experience in print and digital journalism, communications and marketing. In addition to writing for the Associated Press, The (Toledo) Blade and the Michigan Chronicle, he also served as manager of organizational communications at Focus: HOPE where he supervised the production of publications for social charity. As vice president and consultant, he advised Books 4 Buddies, a literacy non-profit in Toledo, Ohio, on strategies. As part of the Skillman Foundation’s communications team, Allen has received the Gold Wilmer Shields Rich Award and a first place award for minority issues from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.

Marge Sorge

Marge Sorge, editor
Marge Sorge is founder of the Detroit Regional News Hub and its award-winning blog site Detroit Unspun. She spent nearly 25 years as a journalist and has also held executive positions in communications at several large Detroit-area companies, as well as serving as executive on loan to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She has received the Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award, several Detroit Press Club Foundation awards and the Vanguard Award from Women in Communications. She was named one of the Women to Watch by Crain’s Detroit Business and has also received the Leaders, Legends and Luminaries award from the Lakeshore Economic Coalition and the Greater Good Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Detroit.

Jeanette Williamson

Jeanette Williamson, art director
Jeanette Williamson has 20 years of experience as a designer and is currently art director at ASG Renaissance. She has received several honors, including the Communicator Awards Silver Award of Distinction and the Hermes Creative Platinum Award. ASG and Williamson were also named “Best of Show” by the Detroit Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, winning two Communicator Awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts. Williamson was also named one of Detroit’s top designers in the CreateDetroit Poster Exhibition in 2005.

Editor’s Note: This feature is a part of TheHUB’s Live Love Detroit series. See related posts:

Introducing “The Map:” TheHUB’s exclusive guide to what and where investment is happening in Detroit

TheHUB launches year-long, in-depth report on neighborhood-specific investments

Development leaders discuss the importance of protecting and investing in Detroit’s neighborhoods

It takes a Village: Woodward Village thrives with families

Ripe market and programs encourage home ownership and investing in Detroit

A ‘Happy,’ HopefulPlace: How developers transformed notorious east side apartments

Jefferson East Inc. promotes affordable housing in high-rent district

Introducing “The Glossary:” A user friendly guide to developer terms



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