Mixed-Income Development Receives City Council Approval in Detroit

Bedrock Detroit and Woodborn Partners will develop a 900-unit residential neighborhood on the former Frederick Douglass public housing site, one of the largest vacant properties in the city.
Douglass Site detail
Douglass Site detail

After recently announcing the development of three projects totaling $102 million in Detroit’s Brush Park neighborhood, the city’s council has approved a Development Agreement that includes Douglass Site, a mixed-income residential property which will be carried out by Bedrock Detroit in partnership with local developer Woodborn Partners.

Developed on the 22-acre site of the former Frederick Douglass public housing structures, the new project will encompass 900 housing units, more than 150 of which will be designated as affordable—or 25 percent of the total rental units on the site, whichever is greater. According to Bedrock’s Affordable Housing Agreement with the City of Detroit, approved by City Council, these units would remain affordable for at least 30 years. The agreement also stipulates that one out of every five, or 20 percent, of Bedrock’s up to 3,500 planned residential rental units in the city will be affordable, targeting those earning 80 percent or less of the area median income.

Located in East Detroit, north of Ford Field and Comerica Park, the 22-acre site was once part of the Brewster-Douglass public housing development. The site has been vacant since The Frederick Douglass towers were demolished in 2014. With the proceeds from the $23 million planned sale of the property, the Detroit Housing Commission intends to invest in existing public housing, as well as the preservation and renovation of other affordable housing units throughout Detroit.  

Mixed-use community development

Douglass Site
Douglass Site

The Douglass Master Plan also includes more than 3.2 acres of open space, 18,000 square feet of retail space, more than 1,100 parking spaces, an early childhood education center and a small hotel. Before breaking ground, the site needs an environmental cleanup, utility infrastructure, site prep work, housing and park construction, as well as public road improvements and new public roads. The Housing & Revitalization Department submitted a proposal to the Detroit City Council requesting approval to allocate a total of $10.2 million in funds to support these works.

Bedrock has also engaged Jonathan Rose Cos., an affordable housing developer, to advise on the development of the affordable housing component of the project. Jonathan Rose Cos. will potentially take on the affordable housing development role. “With the Douglass site’s proximity to employment, healthcare and education, and its planned community gardens, we see a chance to create a community that enhances the opportunity potential of the families that will live here,” said President Jonathan Rose, in a prepared statement. 

Rendering courtesy of Bedrock Detroit