Queen Lillian and The Platform announced recently that they broke ground on Woodward West, a $60 million, new construction mixed-use flagship development in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood.
Slated to open in summer 2022, the five-story development will create 204 apartments and nearly 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail to Woodward Avenue and Stimson Place, just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Twenty percent of the apartments will be offered at below market rates as an affordable housing initiative (including utilities) for those with qualifying incomes which is 80 percent of the area median income.
The total size features 188,000 square feet across five stories with 204 apartments – 114 studios, 78 one-bedrooms, and 12 two-bedrooms.
A portion of the 24,800 square feet of street-level retail space will be reserved as “entrepreneur space” offered at the below-market rate for small businesses. Parking features 84 on-site and 160-plus off-site at an existing parking deck.
Other amenities include an outdoor roof deck with downtown views, theater, fitness center and wellness studio, sauna, business center, pet wash, bike storage, electric-car charging stations and more.
Queen Lillian and The Platform assembled a core project team of Detroit-based talent, including Hamilton Anderson Associates as architect and interior designer, Sachse Construction as a general contractor, Skidmore Studio as a brand strategist, Center City Properties as property manager; and Honigman as tax incentive consultant. Michigan-based companies working on the development include OHM Advisors as a civil engineer, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss as legal counsel, SME for environmental services, and Strategic Energy Solutions as a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer, per the release.
“We are proud that this is a project not only for Detroit but built, designed, and managed almost entirely by Detroit-based companies,” James Jenkins Jr., coprincipal and partner of Queen Lillian said in the release. “We believe that as Detroit continues its comeback that Detroit-based businesses should be leading that charge.”
Woodward West is an example of the confidence that Queen Lillian and The Platform have in Detroit’s renaissance. The start of construction comes less than a year after The Platform opened The Boulevard at Third Avenue and West Grand Boulevard in New Center, the first major new construction residential development in New Center in more than a generation.
“The strong leasing at The Boulevard, even amid the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrates the demand for more new housing and retail in our city,” Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of The Platform said. “Woodward West will bring centrally located housing to Detroiters and much-needed retail space to the Woodward Corridor in Midtown. We are proud to work with the Queen Lillian team to make this catalytic development a reality.”
The Woodward West team has engaged the community throughout the development process, meeting with residents, business owners, property owners, developers and nonprofit stakeholders to receive feedback before finalizing the project and design.
“Woodward West will ultimately serve as a great example of how development can be done while still maintaining inclusion and diversity,” said Christopher Jackson, coprincipal and managing partner of Queen Lillian. “Further, we are proud that we are not displacing an existing neighborhood but, in fact, working with the existing neighborhood to bring quality, affordable housing, and retail offerings to the community.”
Christopher Jackson, coprincipal and managing partner of Queen Lillian and sons at ground-breaking
This past summer, the Woodward West team partnered with the Michigan Minority Contractors Association to host an on-site event for potential trade partners, as well as with the DEGC to host a virtual session, seeking drywallers, flooring installers, painters, and more.
“Woodward West is a great example of how we are rebuilding our city in a way that includes everyone,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “Not only are we seeing one of the last major vacant parcels on Woodward in Midtown being developed with more affordable housing, but the project is also being led almost entirely by Detroit-based businesses with two major black development partners in Jim Jenkins and Chris Jackson.”
In addition to offering commercial spaces to a neighborhood that is underserved with retail options, a portion of the retail space will be reserved as “entrepreneur space” for up-and-coming businesses. It is a symbol of Queen Lillian and The Platform’s commitment to the community and support for fostering small businesses. The team will also engage local artists to commission artwork for the project.
The development would not have been possible without the support of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), which recently approved a Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan of $5.3 million, and the Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit through the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which has approved a loan for $2.2 million. The Detroit City Council and Mayor Mike Duggan’s team also showed incredible support. Rounding out the capital stack is CIBC Bank, the senior lender. In the project’s early predevelopment stages, Capital Impact Partners and Invest Detroit also provided loans to move the project forward.
“Woodward West is a great example of MEDC’s commitment to transforming underutilized properties into vibrant, attractive, and resilient places to live, work, and play,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We’re pleased to work with the many partners who brought this project to fruition, and we look forward to its momentum and the additional investment it will encourage in Midtown Detroit.”