- City plans to make 1/3-square mile area of Old Redford neighborhood blight free
- Plan includes redevelopment of vacant Holcomb school, rehab of over 40 vacant homes, beautification of 175 vacant lots
- RFP released days after earth work begins on Fitzgerald revitalization
The city of Detroit announced today it is seeking proposals for its next neighborhood transformation project near Grand River and Lahser in Old Redford, rebuilding the neighborhood and creating new amenities for the 650 families that live there while attracting new ones. The city will also request proposals to redevelop the vacant Holcomb School in the neighborhood. The release comes just days after the City broke ground on the revitalization of the Fitzgerald neighborhood.
The city is seeking developers to remake a nearly 1/3-square mile section of Old Redford by rehabbing 43 vacant houses, working with the city to demolish 23 others that are not salvageable. Similar to the Fitzgerald revitalization project, the Old Redford project also would include the landscaping and ongoing maintenance of 175 vacant lots.
“This is our strategy to drive development into the neighborhoods and move our city forward, working with community leaders and residents every step of the way,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “There are over 650 families who have seen the highs and lows of this area. Now, we’re going to create new public spaces, clean up the vacant lots and move new neighbors into renovated houses.”
Comprehensive neighborhood redevelopment
The Old Redford Neighborhood Revitalization project will focus on the area bounded by Grand River and McNichols to the south, Pierson Street to the east, Pickford Street to the North and Lasher to the west. The area features approximately 200 publicly-owned parcels of land, including 66 structures and 175 vacant lots.
Rather than approach each element in the neighborhood as a stand-alone project, developers will be asked to submit proposals that bundle the demolition of structures that can’t be saved, rehabilitation of those that can, and landscaping of vacant lots and abandoned properties into a single larger-scale initiative that lifts the whole neighborhood upwards.
“These projects together will contribute to neighborhood stabilization, increased property values, and improved quality of life for residents,” said city Housing Director Arthur Jemison. “We’re looking to preserve existing homes and help meet the demand for inclusive affordable units in all areas of the city. The scope of the single-family rehab project creates an opportunity for smaller developers and builders to participate in the community’s revitalization.”
At least 20% of the renovated units, whether for rent or for sale, should be affordable to households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) in any proposal, ensuring that the neighborhood is available for residents of all income levels.
Vacant Holcomb School to be renovated, serve as community anchor
The city is also seeking developers in a concurrent request for proposals to renovate and reactivate the former Holcomb elementary school, which has sat vacant since the school closed in 2010. Holcomb would be the first of the 77 vacant DPS schools to be put back to use since the city acquired them from DPS in 2015. All schools were secured that year and nine unsalvageable vacant school buildings have since been demolished.
Since the school is centrally located in the Old Redford neighborhood area, the city is encouraging developers to submit proposals for both the school and the neighborhood project to create a comprehensive revitalization plan.
The city is seeking proposals that will rehabilitate the 50,000 square foot historic structure, which was built in 1925. Developers are encouraged to submit plans for residential and/or nonresidential uses, including multi-family housing, senior housing or even a vocational school. Proposals that include residential uses must have 20% of the units affordable to households earning up to 80% AMI.
With the vacant school building and additional vacant parcels on nearby streets, the total developable area is 7.5 acres, with about 6.5 acres of vacant lots and former school grounds. Developers are being asked to submit plans that create public access throughout the site and add new community assets. Proposals could include community gardens, parks, a fitness trail, or new construction of residences or non-residential uses.
The site is located at 18100 Bentler Street, in the middle of the Old Redford Revitalization project area and within walking distance of the vibrant commercial core of Old Redford near the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Lahser Road. Businesses like Motor City Java House, Sweet Potato Sensations and more line the streets bordering the neighborhood. The neighborhood is also within walking distance of the new Meijer grocery store along Grand River.
Planning efforts across the city
The two requests for proposals are the first plans to be implemented as part of the greater planning efforts for the Grand River/Northwest area and follow plans already being implemented in Livernois-McNichols (including the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project) and East Riverfront. The RFPs came out of strategic planning and community engagement in Grand River/Northwest. Similar planning efforts are already underway in Rosa Parks/Clairmount, West Vernor/Southwest and The Villages/Islandview neighborhoods, and more are on the way in Russell Woods/Nardin Park, Jefferson Chalmers, and Campau/Banglatown. The studies reach over 65 neighborhoods across the city and impact all seven city council districts.
“This is the first initiative to come out of the planning framework developed for the larger Grand River Northwest area of Detroit,” said city Planning Director Maurice Cox. “The vacant Holcomb School is part of the historic fabric of the community, and the broader neighborhood components will help build density and improve the vacant lots to enhance the park-like environment in the neighborhood with its beautiful character-defining tree canopy. We are excited about the opportunity to demonstrate design excellence in a true neighborhood setting.”
Each study coordinates planning with existing community groups to identify key issues and come up with innovative yet realistic solutions that the City can implement. Strong community engagement in each neighborhood study will produce community-driven framework plans for the areas.
Community Engagement is Key
Throughout the planning process, the city’s Planning, Housing and Neighborhoods Departments have worked with members of the community to address their needs and concerns. Four public meetings were held between February and May 2017 to engage the larger Northwest community, followed by four smaller meetings through October with residents closer to the Old Redford project area.
The proposal evaluation committee will include city officials and a community representative who has been engaged in the planning efforts since the start.
Where to apply
Interested developers can find the full requests and more information at detroitmi.gov/holcomb. Proposals are due Friday, December 15, 2017. Proposals will be selected in early 2018, with work expected to begin later in 2018.