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Developer of ‘Up’ home finishes duplex, starts new apartment building next door

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The two colorful projects will be part of a pocket neighborhood in Woodbridge

A colorfully-painted three-story home with yellow siding and blue trim. There’s two gables on the front and side.
Newly renovated duplex at Willis Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard
Courtesy of Alex Pereira

The redeveloper of colorful homes, largely in Woodbridge, has finished another home and begun construction on a multifamily building right next door on Willis Street.

Alex Pereira is best known for renovations of Woodbridge homes inspired by stories like Up, The Lorax, and Alice in Wonderland. He also saved the J.D. Baer house, which was vacant for 50 years.

The theme for his latest home has yet to be revealed, though it’s already just as colorful as his others. The duplex at Willis Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard, built in the late 1800s, now has yellow siding, blue trim, and some red accents. There’s also a hand-tinseled address plate, with two more being made for the third-story windows.

Inside, wood from the adjacent demolished shotgun house was salvaged and used as molding for the windows, doors, and baseboards. The upper unit has a neat lofted space that could be an ancillary space for guests.

A wood ladder on a hardwood floor leads to an upper space with metal railings. Around the corner there’s floral-tiles in the kitchen.
Ladder leading to the loft space in the upper unit.
Courtesy of Alex Pereira

The 1,000- and 750-square-foot units are renting for $1,800 and $1,550 respectively.

On the adjacent lot, Pereira is developing his first-ever ground-up project. Construction for the foundation has begun on the six-unit apartment building. Each place will have its own private deck and parking spot.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom units in the three-story structure will be about 700 square feet and go for $1,500 to $1,600 a month. Two units will have lower rent and be reserved for those making 80 percent of the area median income (around $42,000 per year).

Rendering of a white-brick three-story apartment building with some landscaping out front.
Front of the six-unit apartment building
Studio DB

The project has an expected summer 2020 completion and Pereira says it will cost in the “low seven figures.” LISC Detroit has provided some financing.

Pereira sees the two residential buildings as part of a “pocket neighborhood.” There will be both a common landscaped space and large second-story deck with seating and a grill. The entrance for the apartment building will be between both.

“I believe there’s a lot of value in tenant interactions,” Pereira says. “This neighborhood was built on neighbors getting to know each other. I wanted to extend that same process of community building to this development.”

There will also be a mural across the exterior of the apartment building that connects it thematically to the home; Pereira says it will again have a literary inspiration.

Pereira chose this location because of its proximity to a number of in-progress and proposed developments on Grand River Avenue, like Philip Kafka’s Core City projects and the recently announced Osi Art Apartments. Dozens of murals have been painted on buildings along Grand River over the last few years.

“Grand River is going to look like a very different place. You’ve started to see development push west into the edge of Woodbridge.” Pereira says. “Which is why I decided to take this on.”