DETROIT, MI — Wayne State’s South University Village, hailed as the first major market-rate residential project of its kind in Detroit in more than 30 years, is about to become a reality. On March 21, 2007 Grand Rapids-based developer, Prime Development, and the University will break ground at 3:30 p.m. on the $36 million residential and retail establishment and parking structure.
Located on the former site of the old Vernors ginger ale factory, South University Village will be a major commercial corridor marked by exciting shops and restaurants, state-of-the-art residential facilities and a thriving gateway to the Wayne State University campus.
Studio One Apartments, LLC will build and finance the new 155,000 square-foot five-story mixed-use building -- of which 26,217 square-foot is first-floor commercial plus four levels of market rate residential rental units -- projected to cost $20 million. The University will build and finance a four level parking garage –projected to cost $15.9 million—to serve the needs of the general public, the residential/retail complex and the university. The planned completion dates and openings are set for spring/summer of 2008. The project, including the residential/retail building and public parking structure will be located on four acres on the west side of Woodward and the south side of Forest, between Canfield and Forest, immediately north of The Whitney Restaurant. The parking deck and apartment building will be connected, enabling residents to park and walk to their building.
Phase Two will add another $20 million of new construction in 2010-2012 with a second five-story apartment or condominium project along Canfield just west of The Whitney Restaurant. Thus, South University Village represents more than a $50 million investment in the city of Detroit over the next five years.
According to Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid, South University Village highlights Wayne State’s role as a lead partner in the development of Midtown and the revitalization of Detroit. “South University Village will create 195 temporary construction-related jobs and approximately 65 new jobs associated with the bank, retail operations and parking structure,” Reid noted. “This is a significant achievement in the history of our city and a model for the economic benefits of public-private partnerships in our state.”
Gov. Jennifer Granholm believes Wayne State serves as a model for how research institutions are helping shape Michigan’s economy. “Wayne State is helping to drive our state’s 21st economy forward by educating students and conducting cutting edge research,” Granholm said. “Now the university is, once again, demonstrating just how valuable it can be in shaping a vibrant community with economic development projects that are building on the successful Tech Town project.”
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick concurred, citing the infusion of investment that South University Village attracted from the Western side of the state. “The fact that a Grand Rapids-based developer chose to invest major dollars and resources into this project demonstrates that business opportunities abound for companies across the state that have yet to do business here.”
Marcel Burgler, principal of Prime Development, noted that, in addition to recognizing economic opportunity, he and his partners were welcomed by the city. “Wayne State, the Mayor’s office and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) went to great lengths to make developing Studio One Apartments a painless endeavor,” he said. “More over, extensive market research proved to us that there is a great demand in the city of Detroit for high quality rental apartments. We expect to be very successful.”
“There is great potential for South University Village,” added David Egner, president of the Hudson-Webber Foundation, which funded the initial feasibility study for the project. “South University Village made sense as a property that filled a void for much-needed housing, public parking and retail,” he noted. “Moreover, it represents a sound economic investment for all parties involved.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the DEGC, TAKTIX, a Detroit-based real estate consulting company, and Prime Development, as well as private and public corporations and foundations, shared the vision that led to the efforts to make South University Village happen. “TAKTIX worked with Wayne State on the plans for the old Vernor’s site to accelerate the university’s master plan to provide market-rate residential housing on campus for faculty, staff and the community at large,” said TAKTIX principal Larry Marantette. “In this way, we and the other South University Village partners are contributing to a vibrant Midtown.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) granted approval for Brownfield tax credits to support the South University Village project last December. Since that time, Prime Development has confirmed Fifth Third Bank as an anchor tenant and is working diligently to secure other retailers to service the $20 million residential apartment and retail establishment on Woodward and the supporting WSU public parking structure on Forest (Phase One).
“We believe in Wayne State’s ability to transform Midtown into a thriving residential and retail center,” noted Gregory Kosch, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank Eastern Michigan. “Fifth Third is growing and we’re here to stay. Upon learning of South University Village we jumped on the chance to solidify our roots in this growing community with a substantial financial investment and a bank branch and lending office right in the complex.”
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, traffic on Woodward at the site is 23,500 vehicles per day. Midtown Detroit, in particular, has experienced more than $1.6 billion in new residential and commercial construction over the past ten years, according to the University Cultural Center Association.
Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.