The Stevens and Industrial buildings stand next to each other, straddling Grand River on Washington Boulevard. The six-story Stephens opened in the early 1900s and has 38 units. The taller, 21-story Industrial Building has 127 units and was designed by famed architect Louis Kamper, who also designed some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including the Book Tower, Book-Cadillac and Broderick Tower.
Between them, their 165 units were under a housing assistance operating subsidy that was set to expire next year. This would have put the buildings at risk of becoming higher-rent market rate housing, likely making it unaffordable to their existing tenants, who are mostly senior citizens.
However, the Roxbury Group stepped in and acquired the properties in 2015 with plans to renovate the buildings and do it in a way that allowed existing residents to stay. Under the proposal before City Council, both the Stevens and Industrial buildings’ affordable operating status would be preserved for another 30 years.
“We have a clear strategy for how we plan to take care of our long-time residents as Detroit comes back,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “As we see affordable housing buildings approach the expiration of their rental assistance agreements, we are going to work to preserve their affordable status, so residents who have hung in there for so long and are on fixed incomes will know that they can stay.”
The financing will be a combination of state tax credits and a portion of the city’s federal HOME funding, as well as private borrowing and the city home contribution. The $15 million raised for the project will go towards rehabilitation of kitchens and baths in the units and system improvements to the historic building.
Assuming the vote is taken, Stevens & Industrial will close in July and rehabilitation will start in the fall of 2017.
The Fitzgerald revitalization project announced in April is also slated to receive a funding allocation of $1.6 million. These funds will go towards creating affordable for sale and rental units in the Fitzgerald neighborhood. Century Partners and The Platform have come together to rehabilitate more than 100 blighted vacant houses and nearly 200 vacant lots into a park, planned landscaped areas and 115 for-sale and rental houses.
If approved by City Council, it is expected that renovation of the homes will start in July and the closing of the financing will occur in the fall 2017. Blight removal and landscaping is expected to begin next month.