DETROIT – A long-abandoned automotive plant in Detroit is getting a new lease on life.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday a new project to revive the historic Fisher Body 21 factory, a 25-year symbol of blight along Detroit’s most-heavily traveled intersection of I-94 and I-75, into affordable and market rate housing, along with retail opportunities.
You can watch Duggan’s full announcement at the bottom of this page.
Developers Gregory Jackson of Jackson Asset Management and Richard Hosey of Hosey Development are teaming up to rehabilitate the 600,000-square-foot historic building into the Fisher 21 Lofts. At $134 million, the project is believed to be the largest African-American-led development deal in Detroit’s history.
“This project is being done by Detroiters and for Detroiters,” said Gregory Jackson, who with Anika Jackson Odegbo, is part of the father-daughter team behind Jackson Asset Management. “This project is proof of the potential of Detroit, its spirit and its people. We are honored to become stewards of this forgotten piece of the city’s storied past and turn it into a key piece of its future, bringing catalytic investment, quality housing and destination retail to this proud neighborhood.”
The project includes the primary building at 6051 Hastings St., in Detroit’s Medbury Park neighborhood, as well as two adjacent lots at 991 and 666 Harper, to provide parking for residents. The building will be rehabilitated into 433 market rate and affordable apartments, 28,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and 15,000 square feet of co-working space. At least 20 percent of the units (at least 87) will be at or below 80 percent area median income (AMI), and will represent a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
“For almost 30 years, Fisher Body 21 has loomed over the I-94 and I-75 interchange as an international poster child for blight and abandonment in our city,” Mayor Duggan said. “For much of that time, demolition seemed like the likely outcome because the idea of finding a developer willing to renovate and reuse it seemed impossible. But it’s a new day in Detroit, and we have a team of outstanding developers led by two Detroiters — Greg Jackson and Richard Hosey — who are going to transform this vacant eyesore from a source of blight to a source of beauty and opportunity, bringing new housing for Detroiters of all income levels.”
Just as it is hard to overstate the effect of this highly visible Detroit challenge being unmet, it is also hard to overstate the effect the successful redevelopment will have on Detroit’s momentum,” said Richard Hosey of Hosey Development. “This transformative project will become a road map for repurposing industrial buildings around the city.”
The redevelopment plan, designed by local architectural firm McIntosh Poris Associates, calls for cutting three atriums, each the width and length of a city side street, through floors three through six, turning the large floor plates from being too large to the perfect size for double-loaded corridors with great interior and exterior views. The building’s 2-acre roof will provide stunning views of the city, a quarter-mile walking track, indoor lounge, fitness center, dog areas, and relaxing space available to all residents. The ground floor will provide more than 130 enclosed parking spaces, with a total of more than 700 spaces to accommodate residents, guests and shoppers. Ample bicycle parking also will be available around the building.
Pending City Council approval of the sale, initial work is expected to begin in the next month, with the financial closing and start of construction slated for late next year. The project is expected to be complete in 2025. Equity is secured within the development team, which has committed $15 million in internal equity to the project, and is being financed through Bernard Financial, Michigan’s largest mortgage banking firm.
The factory, designed by the Detroit firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, was built as the Fisher brothers were increasing their operations to meet the ever-growing auto industry. As its name implies, Fisher Body 21 was their 21st plant. The factory initially pumped out auto bodies for Cadillac and Buick, and in 1926, the Fishers were bought out by General Motors. After 65 years of operation, the facility was closed in 1984. Six years later, it was bought by the Carter Color Coat Co., which did industrial paint operations in the building. Carter went out of business in 1993, and the facility was abandoned. The City of Detroit took title of the property in 2000, and extensive environmental remediation work was conducted, including soil replacement and removal of storage tanks in order to prime the site for potential redevelopment.