Online Tool Focuses on Neighborhood Development Projects
By Mickey Lyons
A new tool is available to Detroit residents interested in real estate development in their neighborhood. The Detroit Development Tracker is an online map and tracker that details individual projects throughout the city. Viewers can zoom in on the map and click a highlighted location to find out details about a particular project in development or slated for development: who the property owner is, what proposed or current development type is planned — such as apartment complexes, industrial centers or retail buildings — and what the proposed timeline for completion looks like.
There are already several development projects on the tracker in Southwest Detroit. On the corner of Bagley and 16th Street, across from La Colmena (Honey Bee) Market, a new mixed-use development known as The Brooke on Bagley was announced in 2019. Woodborn Partners will build 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail spaces for small businesses and local entrepreneurs. The developer recently received Detroit City Council approval for a tax abatement which will clear the way to close on the project financing in August 2022 and construction to begin soon after.
The Southwest Detroit Business Association, Cinnaire and Invest Detroit are developing a mixed-income, mixed-use development on Vernor between Palms and Hubbard called La Joya Gardens. There will be 53 apartments, of which 40 will be available to tenants making between 40-80% area median income, along with 7,800 square feet of commercial, retail and community space. The project received a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis in January 2021. After long delays due to the pandemic and skyrocketing costs of construction materials, financing for the project is expected to close in October 2022 with construction to begin soon after.
Developers Nicole Stopka-Nichols and Chris Nichols are building a mixed-use project on Michigan in Corktown out of 11 cube cargo-shipping containers. Steelhaus Detroit will have up to four retail spaces on the ground floor and three apartments on the second floor. The project broke ground in 2020 and is expected to be ready for move-in in 2022.
The tracker was rolled out in beta testing this spring, by Detour Detroit and Outlier Media, both social impact news organizations. Kate Abbey-Lambertz is the product and engagement manager at Outlier Media and worked with James McBroom, a data engineer, to develop the tracker, with support from a grant from the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.
“From Detroiters who are doing other things with their time, we’ve heard a lot of concerns about not knowing about projects going up in their neighborhood, or not having a say” in new developments, says Abbey-Lambertz. “We really wanted to make it easy for people to see what’s out there and what the status is, and potentially get information before it’s kind of too late to have a say or to talk to developers ahead of time.”
Outlier is actively seeking community input on new and upcoming developments. “We would like it if people could come to this app, and not just feel more informed, but feel like they were equipped or empowered to do something,” says Abbey-Lambertz. In its first month, the tracker brought in more than 100 tips from residents of Detroit neighborhoods that Outlier hadn’t seen yet. Outlier hopes that the tracker will help residents to find the resources they need to have a say in developments in their neighborhoods. The tracker also notes the status of properties: for sale, proposed, in progress, stalled, under construction, or completed, and whether the project will be a rehab or new build.
The tracker can be found at www.developmenttracker.detourdetroiter.com. Residents can submit tips about proposed, planned and in-progress developments on the website by filling out a brief form, anonymously if they choose.
Mickey Lyons is a Hamtramck-based journalist and author. She specializes in Detroit history, and has published articles in Hour Detroit, The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, and NBC News.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series where EL CENTRAL Hispanic News will share up-to-date information on development projects in the planning and/or construction phases that are of interest to our readers. Next, we will look at some projects we are aware of that are not on the radar screen of the Development Tracker that perhaps should be.