Development How To

Find answers below to the most frequently asked questions about conducting economic development in the city of Detroit.

 ACQUISITION: How can I purchase City-Owned parcels, homes, and/or buildings?

Buying City-Owned Property

To buy City-Owned property follow the instructions below:

  • Check out the Opportunity Map and filter for City-Owned Property for Sale and/or Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) Property for sale
  • Once you find have selected a parcel you are interested in, on the right-hand side of the screen, click the “Inquire to Purchase button” for the property application
  • For additional questions about the City-Owned process, check out the Detroit Building Authority Frequently Asked Questions

When thinking about purchasing a City-Owned parcel for development, you should highlight the following in your application:

  • Development plan for the parcel
  • Construction hard and soft costs
  • Funding sources and/or proof of funds for the development
  • Zoning of the parcel and processes to petition zoning if applicable

For more information, check out the opportunity map to apply for city owned land and also check out Summit Commercial for City of Detroit owned properties currently being marketed.

 VACANT MULTIFAMILY: How do I restore my vacant multifamily property?

What resources are available to restore my vacant multifamily property?

The City is committed to supporting the redevelopment of vacant multifamily properties in Detroit. If you are interested in redeveloping a vacant multifamily property (+4 units) click here for a list of financial potential resources.

Certain incentives and resources are limited to properties located in the City's targeted multifamily areas. Developers of both market-rate and affordable housing, whether standalone or as part of a mixed-use development, are encouraged to focus in these areas.

To explore potential development opportunities for vacant multifamily properties, check out the Opportunity Map and filter for vacant multifamily.

If you are interested in a City-Owned, vacant multifamily property explore City-Owned Parcels and fill out the application.

 DEVELOPMENT: What policies should I be aware of in order to successfully do development in Detroit?

Development Policies

As the city grows, we have created policies to ensure a One City. For All of Us. To support this vision there are several policies that effect development:

  • Inclusionary Housing
  • Community Benefits Ordinance
  • Local Hiring Executive Order


Inclusionary Housing

In 2016, the Detroit City Council adopted an ordinance to establish requirements for the inclusion of affordable rental units in residential projects that receive some form of direct financial assistance from the City. The ordinance is intended to promote the development of economically integrated housing opportunities with affordable units made available to Detroit’s low - and very low-income households earning 50-80% of the Area Median Income for a term of 30 years.


The full text of the ordinance, including relevant definitions, specific transactions that are subject to the ordinance, and enforcement information, is available here.


Community Benefits Ordinance

In the November 2016 election, voters approved a Community Benefits Ordinance to ensure “community outreach and engagement that promotes transparency and accountability and ensures development projects in the City of Detroit benefit and promote economic growth and prosperity for all residents.”


There are two classes of development projects that are subject to this ordinance:

  • Tier 1: Total investment of $75 million, with at least one of the following:
    • Sale of City-owned property valued at $1,000,000 or more without open bidding and priced below market rate
    • Tax abatements totaling more than $1,000,000 over the term of the abatement
  • Tier 2: Total investment of $3 million, with at least one of the following:
    • Sale of City-owned property valued at $300,000 or more without open bidding and priced below market rate
    • Tax abatements totaling more than $300,000 over the term of the abatement

The full text of the ordinance is available here.

The Planning and Development Department maintains a website summarizing the Community Benefits Ordinance process for active projects is available here.



Local Hiring Executive Order

It is the City of Detroit’s policy to encourage and maximize the employment of Detroit residents on publicly-funded (in whole or in part) construction projects by requiring that all City of Detroit construction contracts provide that at least 51% of the hours worked on the project must be Detroit residents based on the total number of work hours. 
The City of Detroit offers assistance with recruiting and hiring Detroit residents to employers. The City also offers free training programs and support services to jobseekers. For more information or assistance with recruiting and hiring efforts, refer to Detroit At Work
For assistance complying with local hiring requirements, refer to the Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity


PLANNING: What Planning policies should I be aware of in order to successfully do development in Detroit?


Zoning is the legal tool that most cities use to govern “uses” (e.g. residential, commercial, or industrial), the size of buildings, and how buildings relate to their surroundings, including other buildings, open spaces, and the street

Detroit has 29 zoning classifications, broken down into residential, commercial, industrial, and special purpose districts. There are also overlay areas that have geography-specific regulations.


  • If proposed use aligns with zoning regulations (allowed uses, height, setback, parking…)
  • Signage Requirements
  • Approved Uses vs. Conditional Uses


Petition zoning for conditional uses and for uses outside of what the zoning guidelines allow. 
Below is the process that you will encounter if you need to petition zoning:

Petition Zoning

Follow the process below and click here for more information to the zoning code. 
To learn more about zoning, check out the opportunity map and select the zoning layer to understand current zoning areas in Detroit.


 RETAIL: What programs are available for small business?

Business License

In order to obtain a business license, check out the steps as outlined by the Buildings Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED) here.

Motor City Match

Entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their businesses generally face two major hurdles: finding the right space and bridging financial gaps that might prohibit their public opening. Motor City Match helps business owners address both. Its goal: help start new, permanent businesses in Detroit’s commercial corridors by providing assistance throughout the business start-up and building renovation process.


Motor City Match is a unique partnership between the DEGC, City of Detroit, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as Southeast Michigan financial institutions, foundations and corporations. We connect new and expanding businesses with Detroit’s quality real estate opportunities, providing funding and tools to fuel the city’s entrepreneurial revolution. The program also provides competitive grants, loans and counseling to help both building and business owners become successful.

Motor City Restore

Motor City Re-Store is a quarterly business competition that supports Detroit’s existing neighborhood businesses with grants to fund exterior facade improvements. The program gives business owners a boost in curb appeal, making city commercial corridors more walkable, more attractive and better for business. Eligible businesses must be open and operating in a commercial storefront. Program resources include:

  • 50:50 matching grants, with a maximum grant of $25,000 per business (with a 75:25 match if four businesses apply on the same block)
  • Connect opportunities with architecture experts and get free conceptual design services
  • Access to pre-vetted contractors for exterior improvement projects

To learn more how the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation can support budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses, check out Motor City Match and Motor City Restore.

 FINANCING: What tools are a available for development?

To learn details on financial support for your development via public subsidy, low interest loans and/or abatements check out the Financing section of this website.