Woodbridge-neighborhood apartments billed as first step for new Detroit gallery district
Detroit — Ground was broken Thursday on a $6.6 million apartment complex in the Woodbridge neighborhood by city officials and developers George N’Namdi and Roderick Hardamon.
The N’Namdi Holdings and URGE Development Group project, which is a part of a vision the Black developers have for the West End Gallery District featuring retail, restaurants, housing and galleries, is the first to receive funds from the $48 million Detroit Housing for the Future Fund that assists in the creation of affordable housing in the city’s neighborhoods.
Half of the 30 colorful Osi Art Apartments @ West End at 3820 Grand River, just west of Trumbull, will be reserved for affordable housing when the building comes online in 2022.
"This is what we need," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during the Thursday groundbreaking. "We are committed to building affordable housing in all parts of this city. Grand River is starting to come back in a very positive way and this is another major step."
The four-story building will have three studio apartments, 25 one-bedroom apartments and two two-bedroom apartments. The 25,000-square-foot development also will have more than 5,000 square feet of rentable commercial space.
N’Namdi, a well-known gallery owner and art dealer in Detroit who owns N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, envisions a West End Gallery District that celebrates arts and culture. He wanted a building project that had creative and design components. The building was designed by Quinn Evans and VolumeOne Design Studio. Lewand Building is the general contractor.
"When we finish this building and you're driving down Grand River and you come upon the building and if you don't say, 'Wow,' we haven't done our job," he said at the event. "That's what we want to accomplish here in our project and for the City of Detroit, that we have more design and arts-oriented buildings."
The developers wanted to create a gallery district similar to what other cities, like River North in Chicago or Wynwood in Miami, have. That's already been started with Sugar Hill Arts District in Midtown, where the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art is located.
"We want to continue that energy over here in Grand River," N’Namdi said.
The developers are focused on creative place keeping, Hardamon added.
"How you figure out how you honor and preserve and empower the communities we partner with, that's our goal and mission," he said.
The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. helped the developers with obtaining vacant land for the project and to get the financial resources needed for the project. This included obtaining a Michigan Economic Development Corp. $1.25 million low-interest loan, leveraging the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for $360,000 in tax increment financing reimbursement and helping the developers secure a Commercial Rehabilitation Tax Abatement that reduces property taxes for 10 years.
The Local Initiatives Support Corp. provided about $4.2 million in financing through the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, which LISC manages with the City of Detroit.
Invest Detroit provided a $400,000 predevelopment loan, which evolved into a $1.6 million loan to bridge gap financing with the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.