Left Field breaks ground, bringing deeply affordable housing to Corktown as part of $30M HUD neighborhood grant


Left Field breaks ground, bringing deeply affordable housing to Corktown as part of $30M HUD neighborhood grant

  • Left Field is first project to break ground under City’s sweeping $30M Corktown Choice plan to bring 500 units of affordable housing to one of Detroit’s fastest growing neighborhoods.
  • 120-unit housing development at former Tiger Stadium site will set aside 40% of its units for Detroiters earning no more than 60% or area’s median income.
  • City was awarded highly competitive HUD Choice Neighborhood grant as part of Mayor Duggan’s strategy to prevent displacement as Corktown development drives up rents.

DETROIT – Mayor Mike Duggan, along with City, State and Federal officials, joined with Corktown residents today to break ground on Left Field, a $42 million residential development at the former site of Tiger Stadium that will bring deeply affordable housing to one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods. Left Field is the first development in the city’s sweeping Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) transformation plan to begin, following years of planning and community engagement.

Left Field, being built by American Community Developers (ACD), is a two-phase development that will have a total of 120 apartments, 40 percent of which will be at deeply affordable rates at or below 60 percent area median income (AMI). Each phase will cost about $21 million and have 60 units each along the Fisher Service Drive and Cochrane Street. This first phase is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, and the second is to break ground later this year and open in 2024.

The project is supported by the $30-million HUD CNI grant awarded to Detroit last year that will create more than 800 units of housing with a wide array of affordability and housing options throughout Corktown. The work, led by the City’s Housing & Revitalization and Planning & Development teams, will ensure Detroiters of all backgrounds and incomes will be included as the neighborhood continues to see rapid development and escalating rents. Corktown is in line to see more than $200 million invested in 842 new units of housing completed over the next six years, with at least 60 percent (504 units) of them being set aside as affordable housing. The City’s Choice work is supported by $1.01 billion in leverage commitments in Corktown, including Ford’s $740-million mobility campus.

“Our promise to longtime Detroiters is that they won’t be pushed out by development, and nowhere is intervention needed more right now than in Corktown, which is seeing an unprecedented level of new development,” said Mayor Duggan. “Last week, City Councilmembers and I announced a $203 million affordable housing plan for this year that included Left Field, along with several others that will follow.”

Michael Polsinelli, Michigan field office director for HUD, took part in today’s celebration, and congratulated the City for its commitment to affordable housing and community engagement.

“The City of Detroit’s Corktown Choice plan will go a long way to bringing more quality affordable housing and successful, mindful urban development to Detroit,” he said. “HUD is committed to investing in American cities that share our goals of equitable development and opportunities that minimize displacement.”

The first phase of Left Field consists of studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom units across two buildings. Of the two phases’ 48 affordable units, 43 will be at or below 60 percent AMI which is about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom, and five at 50 percent, or about $840 a month for a one-bedroom. Additionally, 29 of those 48 affordable units will have rental assistance contracts for those at 50 percent AMI and below. The rest of the stadium’s footprint has already been redeveloped as market-rate apartments, retail and condos and a youth sports stadium for the Detroit Police Athletic League.

“We are proud to be part of another great mixed-income development in the City of Detroit,” said Jerry Krueger, president of Detroit-based ACD, which manages or owns 13,000 units across 11 states and is the largest owner of multifamily housing in the city. “It’s great that residents who live in Corktown can continue to live here and experience the investment and growth in this neighborhood.”

Added ACD Vice President Mike Essian: “We have spent a lot of time with residents gathering feedback and input, and we will continue to work with residents and neighbors as we build each phase of the Corktown Choice plan.”

Left Field was selected by MSHDA in 2020 for Low-Income Housing Credit (LIHTC) funding with a value of $10.8 million, and was awarded LIHTC supplemental funding last month with a value of $3.4 million to address rising construction costs while keeping the deeply affordable rates in place. The development also received a $1 million HOME loan from the City. Citizens Bank is the equity investor through City Real Estate Advisors and Citizens Bank is also the construction lender for the first phase of Left Field.

“Given the incredible amount of development in Corktown, MSHDA is dedicated to ensuring important projects like Left Field move forward and retain the needed deeply affordable housing they represent,” said Chad Benson, rental development director for MSHDA.

Left Field sets stage for next phase of Corktown affordable housing plan

As part of the Corktown Choice strategy, the 87-unit Section 8 Clement Kern Gardens, which is also owned by ACD, will be razed and rebuilt. When it was built in 1985, the 9-acre site was isolated with berms and fencing and streets cut off. Under the Choice plan, the street grid will be reconstructed to better connect neighborhood. As Clement Kern is redeveloped, current residents who want to stay in Corktown will be given priority to relocate to Left Field and future developments in the Corktown Choice plan.

Once Clement Kern is redeveloped, those residents who relocated to other affordable units can either stay in their new homes or choose to move to the rebuilt Clement Kern site. Most important, existing Clement Kern residents who qualify will continue to pay rent based on their income, and their housing needs and status will be prioritized throughout the Corktown Choice project. Work on redeveloping Clement Kern is to begin following completion of the first phase of Left Field.

The Corktown Choice plan also will bring more affordable housing to North Corktown. There are 143 vacant lots in this area controlled by the City, spread across 14.6 acres, that will see new infill housing built on the site. The plan also calls for a new community empowerment center and outdoor learning lab to be built upon the former site of the Owen School.

Community-driven plan

The City’s plan draws upon the Greater Corktown Framework, which was developed following an 18-month effort by the City’s Planning & Development Department (PDD) and Housing & Revitalization Department (HRD). Local leaders, residents, nonprofits and developers came together to create Detroit’s Choice bid to revitalize the neighborhood and address challenges.

The City engaged the community around the framework starting in March 2019, gaining input and hearing priorities of those already in the neighborhood, ensuring that those currently living in Corktown directed their neighborhood’s future. Residents made it clear their top issues are housing affordability and infill housing, as well as increased green space and amenities.

“We want to make sure that all residents, no matter their income, have the ability to continue to call Corktown home and the ability to take part in all of the incredible things happening in this historic neighborhood," said Julie Schneider, director of HRD. "The Corktown Choice transformation plan is meant to ensure that future. We are thankful for the contributions of residents during the planning process and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in this important work."

The Corktown plan was the first time Detroit has been selected to receive a HUD Choice grant.

“This has been the most comprehensive and ambitious planning project Detroit has undertaken in a generation,” said Katy Trudeau, deputy director of PDD. “The fact that our plan was chosen speaks to the incredible team of planners, housing experts and dedicated City staff that we have working on designing a Detroit that brings the community into the planning process and helps create a city where all are welcome and all can benefit from the city’s turnaround.”

In addition to supportive services for residents, housing and jobs, the plan’s other key focus is streetscape improvements and greenspace. Last week, a $6 million overhaul of Roosevelt Park in front of Michigan Central Station kicked off that is slated for completion next spring.

For more information on the Corktown Choice Plan, go to bit.ly/3cJojkU or https://detroitmi.gov /departments/planning-and-development-department/neighborhood-plans/central-design-region/greater-corktown/choice-neighborhoods.