$36M mixed-income development breaks ground in Detroit’s Midtown


DETROIT – A $36 million mixed-income and mixed-use development has broken ground in Detroit’s Midtown.

The City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department (HRD) announced Tuesday that Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and Develop Detroit have broken ground on a new development in Midtown Detroit’s Sugar Hill Arts District, located on what is currently a vacant lot on the northwest corner of John R and Garfield streets.

The development will include 68 apartments, 11,900 square feet of retail, and 164 parking spaces for use by residents and the public in the popular Midtown entertainment and restaurant district. Fourteen of the apartments will be set aside as affordable housing at 30 percent to 60 percent of the average median income (AMI).

"At Develop Detroit, we believe in high quality housing for all,” said Sonya Mays, president and CEO of Develop Detroit. “This development not only will become home to Detroiters of all walks of life, but is also one that reflects the needs and desires of our neighbors in the community.”

The site is across from the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, and many of its affordable apartments will be targeted to formerly homeless veterans served by the HUD-VASH voucher program.

The development is one of the last projects by Phil Freelon, one of the most celebrated Black architects in U.S. history. Freelon – whose works include the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington and Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights – passed away in 2019.

Sugar Hill was a thriving entertainment/nightlife district in the 1940s-1960s, with many African-American-owned establishments. The Sugar Hill Arts District was designated a national and local historic district in 2002, based on its history as a center of Detroit jazz and entertainment venues serving diverse audiences. Today, Sugar Hill features a combination of residential, mixed-use, and arts-related businesses, and is home to cultural anchors such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art.

“This project will help kick off an exciting new era for Sugar Hill and add an inclusive development to the neighborhood that will bring much-needed housing, not only for the growing number of Midtown residents, but also for our veterans,” said Donald Rencher, director of HRD. “HRD is committed to ensuring that Detroit’s renaissance includes a place for everybody, and we are proud to partner with Develop Detroit and POAH on this important project.”


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Ken Haddad is the digital content manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter.