Detroit City Council approves mixed-income development on former Brewster-Douglass site

Bedrock rendering of mixed-income develoment on former public housing site. (WDIV)

DETROIT – Detroit City Council has approved a plan to develop affordable housing on one of Detroit's largest vacant properties: the 22-acre former Frederick Douglass public housing site.

The proposed plan would deliver more than 150 units to the market designated as affordable, or 25 percent of total rental units on the site (whichever is greater). Those units would remain affordable for at least 30 years, pursuant to Bedrock’s Affordable Housing Agreement with the City of Detroit and approved by City Council in July 2017.

The proposed neighborhood would consist of more than 900 housing units  offered for-rent and for-sale, spread across six residential styles designed to suit all Detroiters: townhomes, carriage homes, duplettes, flats, walk ups and apartments. 

The Douglass Master Plan also proposes amenities including more than 3.2 acres of open space (parks, courtyards, etc.), 18,000 square feet of retail space, more than 1,100 parking spaces, an early childhood education center and a small hotel. 

With the proceeds from the $23 million sale, the Detroit Housing Commission (DHC) will invest in existing public housing, preservation and renovation of other affordable housing units throughout the entire city, as well as construction job training initiatives for Detroit residents.

“This deal is a win for the entire City of Detroit. First, a long-vacant site adjacent to downtown will finally see redevelopment that will bring quality housing with significant affordable options and more amenities to the neighborhood,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Second, the proceeds from this sale will transform public housing in Detroit by accelerating the preservation and renovation of affordable units across the city, allowing us to keep people in their homes and provide a higher-quality of housing.”

“The Douglass Site gives us the unique opportunity to create a development that will offer something for everyone and bring a sense of community back to a space with such a rich historic legacy for so many Detroiters,” said Dan Gilbert, Chairman of Bedrock. “Parks, courtyards, retail, affordable housing and for-sale units are all in the mix on this project and we look forward to working with our partners to create a thriving and diverse community with opportunity for all Detroiters to enjoy.” 

Located just east of Brush Park, the Frederick Douglass site represents the southern portion of what was once the Brewster-Douglass public housing development. The Frederick Douglass towers were vacated in 2008 and demolished in 2014, and the site has sat vacant since that time.

At its peak capacity, the combined Brewster-Douglass development housed between 8,000 and 10,000 residents. Prior to its operation as public housing, the Frederick Douglass Site was location in Detroit historically known as Black Bottom and retains a rich historic legacy for generations of Detroit residents. 

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