Residents upset over plan for new residential building in Detroit's Harbortown

Residents say more housing would cause more problems, like traffic and loss of green space

DETROIT - Most are excited when they hear new development and new buildings are coming to Detroit. But some residents are upset about one proposal because they say it will change their neighborhood for the worse and bring in some serious traffic problems.

Harbortown is a gate complex just off Jefferson with condos that sit along the Detroit River.

It's a quiet, upscale community. Many of its residents have lived there for years.

"We have a lot of professional people here, it's just a nice, secure community," said George Johnson. He's been a resident for 20 years.

But he and other residents say that could all change if a new condo building is allowed to be built.

"What they're looking at do of course is going ahead across the street here, putting in a five-story building that they call a luxury apartment building complex," Johnson said.

He's concern residents will lose green space.

"Across the street here will either be a parking lot or the building – all the way from that point all the way down to the river," Johnson said.

Mary Nicholson's reaction when she heard about the plan?

"I said, ‘Oh my goodness. No' Because we have a parking problem now," she said.  "One hundred and forty or 50 more cars? Where are they going to park?"

Nicholson said she's afraid there isn't enough space for all the development.

In addition to parking, the residents say they're also worried about whether the sewage system will be able to keep up.

Nothing is set in stone when it comes to details on what would be built. Talk of a 140-unit building has been discussed with the city's planning commission. It still needs to go before City Council.

Johnson and the other residents say if their concerns are not heard, they city is going to another issue to deal with.

"Basically, what we're doing is being forced out of here because we're not going to live in this environment," Johnson said.

Local 4 spoke with a manager Thursday at Harbortown who said there are many residents who support the idea. The manager said there have been discussions with the Detroit Economic Growth Committee so a facility that everyone is happy with can be built.  

A date for the plan to go before City Council has not yet been set.

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