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Old Posted Nov 21, 2011, 2:52 AM
DetroitMan DetroitMan is offline
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Developer revives $1 billion long-held dream (Detroit)

Developer revives long-held dream
$1B plan would have waterway as linchpin
By Daniel Duggan

Developer Richard Baron could have this $15 million residential and commercial project in Midtown under construction next year at John R and Palmer.

After Richard Baron built a career out of St. Louis as a national developer of blighted urban property, he longed to come back to his hometown of Detroit to take on the city's challenges.

So he tried in the 1980s, tried in the 1990s and tried in the early 2000s, but he was never able to find a project that would work with the city's politics.

He pitched an idea for Tiger Stadium, for the former J.L. Hudson Co. building on Campus Martius and for the redevelopment of vacant homes along Woodward.

He had all but given up, focusing instead on the 16,300 units and 1.29 million square feet of commercial space he has developed in 35 cities across the country at a value of $2.45 billion. But Baron, co-founder of McCormack Baron Salazar Development Inc., is now closer than ever to his dream of building in Detroit.

If the final pieces of financing come together for a $15 million residential and commercial project in Detroit's Midtown, he could have the building under construction next year, with roughly 100 units of mixed-income residential space, able to accommodate disabled people.

The building at John R Street and Palmer Avenue, however, is the least ambitious of Baron's plans for Detroit.

He's also pushing on an almost 30-year-old plan to redevelop 3,000 acres of land from Jefferson Avenue to the General Motors Volt plant, north of I-94 near St. Aubin in an area on the border of Hamtramck and Detroit. The plan would re-create a creek that once flowed through that area and be the backbone for development.
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Old Posted Nov 21, 2011, 9:30 AM
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LMich LMich is offline
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Whoa, buddy. He's talking essentially about rebuilding Poletown (and much more), isn't he? That would be something. I've always viewed this near eastside area as a no-brainer for your conventional working-to-middle-class redevelopment. It'd be really nice if General Motors would start a special, small program to repopulate neighborhoods around its factories where applicable, you know, offer minimal incentives for housing near their plants considering all of the other extra-curricular stuff they spend money on.

As for that building, the architecture looks like all of the other multi-family stuff that's planned or is going up in Midtown recently, but I'm not going to sneeze at a 100 new units of housing. Buildings can be filler, particularly these developments off Woodward.
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Old Posted Nov 21, 2011, 4:16 PM
hudkina hudkina is offline
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I think the Poletown area is ripe for an urban re-imagination project and I don't think it would be as hard as some might expect to attract people to the neighborhood. I would expect there to be a market for people who want a relatively large home with a backyard but with quick access to the amenities of the Lower Woodward corridor. While the average lot size in the Poletown area is about 100' x 30' or 1/16 of an acre, that's still more space than what they'd get in an 800 sq. ft. loft in Midtown. A house in Poletown would presumably be more affordable.

Chene St could easily become a "main" street of sorts with shops, restaurants, etc. that cater to the neighborhood. There would already be the foundations of a farm market in the form of Chene Market. There are several schools and a theatre that could be renovated. Bike lanes along Ferry, St. Aubin and Warren would mean bicyclist would be minutes from the Midtown Loop or even the Dequindre Cut. There's also Perrien Park (which I would love to see expanded to include the area bounded McDougall, Warren, Forest, and Chene).

If they did build a stream through the neighborhood, I would hope they keep the street grid intact. In fact, if they do anything to the neighborhood, I would hope they keep the current infrastructure layout as it is. No complexes, no front-side garages, no dead ends, no vinyl, etc. They should rebuild the neighborhood in a style ranging somewhere between the 1870's and the 1930's, but obviously with modern technology.

At least that's my dream...
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