Detroit Housing Commission Rolls Out New Developments

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    The Detroit Housing Commission is in the process of building a number of new developments, which will include single family homes, rental units and public housing units.

    Eugene Jones, executive director of the Detroit Housing Commission, said one of these developments, Gardenview Estates, located at the site of the former Herman Gardens (between Southfield Road and Asbury Park and Joy and Tireman) will consist of townhouses.

    The 149-acre, mixed-income property will comprise 337 single family homes and 496 rental units (of which 234 will be public housing), for a total of 833 units in all.

    The units will have wall-to-wall carpeting, air conditioning and all new appliances, according to Jones.

    Gardenview Estates has a 2013 completion goal. Asked how sure he is that the Detroit Housing Commission can meet that goal, given the economy, Jones said he believes that by then the economy will have rebounded.
    They will be doing a homearama in September at that location.

    Jones also said Gardenview Estates includes what he calls “an amenity package.” Within walking distance, there will be a commercial marketplace (with grocery store), a McDonald’s and a large retention pond. A Boys and Girls Club and three schools are already nearby.

    “You have Jameson Elementary School, you have a charter school across the street, and Cody High down the street,” Jones said. “You couldn’t ask for a better scenario.”

    The second development, Cornerstone Estates, is scheduled for completion in 2012. It’s located across from the Motor City Casino, bordered by Temple, the Lodge Service Drive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Fourth Street.

    “Cornerstone Estates is going to be 220 units,” Jones said. “It’s a part of Woodbridge. Old Jeffries. And we have another one called Emerald Springs. It’s on the east side. We’re going to build 180 units.”

    Emerald Springs, located on Mound Road, and formerly known as the Charles Terrace Homes, is scheduled for completion by 2013. Both Cornerstone and Emerald Springs will consist of rental units.
    Jones said the units will all fit into their respective neighborhoods.

    Both Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Hope VI funds and RHF investments are helping to make these projects a reality. The Hope VI program grants money to housing authorities to revitalize the neighborhood, based on applications.

    “The City of Detroit, or the Detroit Housing Commission, was very fortunate to receive three Hope VI grants,” he said. “The first one ever was Parkside, which is on the east side over on Connor Avenue.”

    The second was Woodbridge, the former Jefferies East (Now Cornerstone), and the third was the former Herman Gardens.

    Jones said RHF funding is replacement housing funding for new infill public housing units.

    All these developments are in areas of the city where Mayor Bing plans to reinvest, Jones noted.

    “We’ve talked with the city staff, we’ve talked with the mayor,” he said. “We’ve looked at their overlay, where they’re going to demolish and where they’re going to rebuild and so forth. Our public housing sites are right there in their scheme of things. So we don’t have to do anything extra, but make sure that we build where we say we’re going to build.”

    The biggest challenge in getting these projects to completion has been in trying to find equity investors and tax credit deals.

    “As the economy bounces back, we’ve been doing our due diligence, going to bank after bank, and every type of investor we can name,” he said. “And we talk to them, and they, in turn, believe and they invest. That’s why we’ve been successful, because we build where we say we’re going to build and we have a good team.”

    He said the Detroit Housing Commission’s credibility gives investors assurances they’re going to get something done.

    These projects are also creating jobs. More than 100 construction jobs have been created at Gardenview Estates and many minority contractors are participating in the endeavor.

    “We stress minority participation, and also employing our residents on those sites as laborers, or whatever they’re qualified to be,” Jones said. “It’s been very encouraging, especially in the surrounding neighborhood.”

    Asked what makes him feel the most confident about these various projects, Jones said they are well built with the latest energy efficient appliances. He also said they look great and that it feels great to have something brand new that’s indicative of quality of life issues.

    “They are quality units,” he said. “They’re not going to break down in the next five or six years. They’re built to stay for a long, long time.”

    He also pointed out that these new units fit into the neighborhood.

    “You won’t pass it and say. ‘Okay, that’s got to be new public housing or something like that,’” he said. “It’s seamless. You don’t know that it’s public housing. You don’t know what it is. You know it’s just a great new development.”

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