DETROIT—Mayor Dave Bing announced Thursday morning that the abandoned Fredrick Douglas Homes complex, formerly known as the Brewster-Douglas housing project, will be demolished.
The massive complex covers a large swath of land in a part of the city that is prime space for new development, Bing said. The demolition is expected to take place next summer, according to Bing.
“We’ve got 18 acres of contiguous property in a great part of Detroit. But it [the complex] has to come down first,” Bing told reporters outside of the vacant housing project located near Eastern Market, Brush Park, and Detroit’s Midtown district. “These buildings have been standing empty for years.”
Bing called the abandoned high-rises an “eyesore” and said he was open to suggestions on how to develop the space after demolition takes place adding that there are no plans in place for its future development. “It’s a white sheet of paper,” he said.
A $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Capital Fund Emergency Grant Program awarded to the Detroit Housing Commission will pay for the demolition. The complex has a historical background as one of the first government subsidized housing projects in the city and has housed some of the city’s biggest legends in entertainment.
“The former Brewster-Douglass complex has a proud place in Detroit’s rich history, as the nation’s first federal housing project for African Americans; as the place where Joe Louis learned to box; and where Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard formed the Supremes,” Mayor Bing said. “However, as a vacant site it became a major eyesore and a danger to the community. We welcome the chance to make it a productive residential and commercial area once again.”
In his state of the city address in March, Bing promised to begin demolition on the complex; one of the city’s largest abandoned housing projects, by the end of the year.
The Detroit Housing Commission owns the complex, which covers 18.5 acres of property. The Frederick Douglass Homes project includes four 12-story high-rise apartment buildings; two six-story mid-rise apartments and 75 town homes.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took control of the Detroit Housing Commission in 2005. Earlier this year, HUD Assistant Secretary Sandra B. Henriquez announced a transition plan that outlines the steps for its return to local governance, including the appointment of an advisory committee by Mayor Bing.