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Developer Buys Two Downtown Apartment Buildings; Affordable Housing Can Stay

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The Roxbury Group buys the Industrial and the Stevens buildings; senior apartments stay

Usually we hear about the rent being too damn high downtown. Today, at least, we have different news.

In a release yesterday, the Roxbury Group, a Detroit-based developer, in partnership with Invest Detroit Foundation announced that they've acquired the Industrial and Stevens apartment buildings on the corner of Washington and Grand River downtown.

The properties comprise two historic buildings with a combined 165 units of senior affordable housing located across Grand River from one another. The buildings were constructed in the early 20th Century for offices and retail, and then were converted to senior housing under HUD’s Section 8 program in the early 80s.

Capitol Park is undergoing substantial redevelopment recently with the influx of new workers downtown. Projects such as the David Whitney Building (hotel and residential), Farwell Building, Detroit Saving Bank, Griswold Capitol Park, and Capitol Park Lofts are slated to add over 400 new units to the immediate neighborhood and roughly 25,000 square feet of retail.

"Given the scarcity of available properties in the area and rising property values and rents, it is critically important that these remaining affordable properties be protected and improved." said David Blaszkiewicz, President and CEO of Invest Detroit.

The taller of the two, known as the "Industrial" on account of its original tenant, the Industrial State Bank, was designed by famed Detroit architect Louis Kamper, known for landmark properties such as the Book Cadillac, Book Tower, and Broderick Tower. The team plans to re-name this building the "Louis Kamper." The Stevens Apartments is the older of the two properties, and once housed the downtown branch of Manufacturers National Bank.

In the midst of this substantial market-rate redevelopment occurring, the Industrial and Stevens represent two of only four remaining Section 8 properties in the downtown Detroit Central Business District.

Neither building has seen significant renovation since their original development into housing and both have experienced substantial deferred maintenance in recent years. When the owners secure funding, the buildings will receive full updates, including heating, cooling, electrical, repairs, finishes, and exterior work as necessary. In addition, the team plans to fill the nearly 9,000 square feet of empty first-floor retail in both properties.

The partnership is currently pursuing tax credit support for the redevelopment of the properties through the MSHDA-sponsored Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Depending on the timing, the plan is to commence the renovations of the properties in approximately 12 months.