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5 Detroit development stories to watch in 2018

Hotels, parks, and transit

In the foreground is a pedestrian plaza with people. On either side of the plaza are various city buildings.
More construction will break ground downtown as Bedrock starts work on the Monroe blocks.

2017 was a big year for development in Detroit, with the groundbreaking of the Hudson’s site, new plans for the East Riverfront, and the opening of the Little Caesars Arena and the QLine. We have an idea of developments that will open in 2018, but what kind of stories can we expect to follow through the year?

Based on what we’ve seen in 2017, and what we can gather from 2018, we’re listing five bigger development trends we think we’ll hear more about as the year unfolds. Some of these include specific examples of work that should be starting (Monroe blocks, Atwater Beach), while others are based on the work started in 2017.

What do you think? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.

Heavy construction downtown

In mid-December, Bedrock broke ground on a new skyscraper at the Hudson’s site in downtown Detroit. A few blocks away, they’re expected to break ground on the Monroe blocks, which will bring new designs, office towers, and more residential to downtown Detroit. This will mean two massive construction projects ($909 million for Hudson’s; $830 million for Monroe) will be happening within a few blocks of each other.

An addition will be built onto One Campus Martius soon.

Along with these two developments should come news on nearby buildings. We could see work start soon on the addition to neighboring One Campus Martius. The National Theatre is located within the Monroe Block development; its future is still unclear.

Hotels! Hotels! Hotels!

Three hotels are set to open in 2018: The Siren Hotel at the Wurlitzer Building, the Shinola Hotel, and the Element Detroit Hotel. Is Detroit ready to support that many new hotel rooms? Will we hear clearer plans for other hotels in the works? Those might include one in the District Detroit and a West Elm hotel in Midtown. And with the Joe Louis Arena on its way out, will we see clearer plans for a hotel on that site? Do we even need a hotel on that site?

More retail opening along busy corridors

In 2017, we saw a few announcements that could lead to improved retail outside of downtown. First, Motor City Re-Store was announced, which gives grants to local businesses to help improve their exterior. This fall, city council passed a commercial corridor plan that would support commercial areas around the city with $125 million (which would go toward landscaping, better parking, improving sidewalks, etc.). We can expect more businesses to open up along Woodward in New Center soon. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more businesses opening along Livernois and in Jefferson-Chalmers.

Building better public spaces

2017 saw the release of the East Riverfront plan, plus more work around specific parks. In early 2018, we should know the finalists for the design plans for the West Riverfront. Work will also start this year on both Capitol Park and Atwater Beach.

What would we like to see? We’ll be getting more greenways down the East Riverfront; could we know soon what might happen to the Uniroyal site? And we’ve seen some grand designs for Roosevelt Park; of course, it would help to know the future of the adjacent Michigan Central Station.

Improving the transit that we have

In 2017, metro Detroit came to terms with a failed RTA vote. We’re not getting rail. We’re not even getting bus rapid transit. But if we want to compete with other big cities, we have to do something (that was clear in the Amazon bid). We saw the debut of the QLine, and at the end of the year, an announcement for the FAST service from SMART. DDOT has also started offering free rides on select routes on Saturdays to encourage more people to ride the bus. Could 2018 see even more improvements to our existing transit?

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Since the QLine is up and running down Woodward, we wouldn’t be surprised to see announcements of either an extension down Woodward or another route down Jefferson or Michigan. It seems like announcements would be dependent on a few factors, such as the Amazon decision or any plans for Michigan Central Station. As an added dream, maybe a new line would go down the center of the street, since the streetcar has run into issues with cars blocking the curbside rails.

More to watch:

Will work really ramp up on the Gordie Howe Bridge? Will we have two bridges built at the same time as the Morouns want a second span of the Ambassador Bridge?

We’ve seen more plans to build modern additions onto existing properties; will that trend continue in 2018?

We saw city-led efforts for neighborhood revitalization in Fitzgerald and Old Redford in 2017; will we see more neighborhood development plans this year?

Will we ever get that Target in Midtown? Maybe a movie theater? Please?