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On Grand River, a community of Quonset huts is taking shape

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A new village emerges on the border of Core City and Woodbridge

Photos taken July 2016 by Michelle & Chris Gerard

When you think of what might come next for the Detroit housing market, Quonset huts might not immediately come to mind. But if you drive down Grand River, you'll notice a few popping up between 14th and 16th streets.

It’s a different kind of housing, and one that will be more affordable than other housing being built in the city.

The new community is called True North, and is designed by architect Edwin Chan from the Los Angeles design studio EC3. True North, which should be available for residents next year, will be a live/work community comprised of nine Quonset hut dwellings, a community pavilion, and gardens.

Photo Courtesy of Edwin Chan / EC3

The development team is Prince Concepts, which also converted an old garage into Katoi in Corktown.

Inspired by a photo of Berlin right after World War II, Quonset Huts are lightweight prefab structures made of corrugated galvanized steel and have a semicircular cross section. They were manufactured in the early 1940s for the United States Navy, which needed habitable structures that were easy to transport and could accommodate a variety of uses.

The dwellings will be delivered mostly raw, so residents can be creative with how they look. John Patrick from ABOVE THE FOLD says the team is working on HVAC, heating, and insulation.

The architecture team—EC3 (design architect) and Studio Detroit (local architect)—has created four variations of dwellings, plus a public outdoor pavilion and gardens. Ranging in size from 600 to 1,100-square-feet with varying ceiling heights and one duplex, the rents will be about half the cost of other newly constructed projects in the city.

Michelle & Chris Gerard
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Across from the site on Grand River, plans for a 2,000-square-foot commercial development are underway, led by a New York architect.

Following True North, the developer intends to work with EC3 to develop a 10-acre master plan for the company’s adjacent properties including several historic warehouse buildings and open spaces.

Grand River Ave & 14th St, Detroit, MI 48208, USA

Grand River Ave & 14th St, Detroit, MI 48208, USA