Right now Detroit is in the midst of an economic renaissance. As the scene is changing and the city is waking up from her deep sleep of economic downfall, businesses and people are deciding they now want to live and work in the city. So the question we are all asking is, “Where are we supposed to live?”
Sign for the DuCharme Place
As Rachel Perschetez of Live Detroit says, “There was about a 2% increase of occupancy from 2013 to 2015, and both Downtown Detroit and Midtown Detroit are very highly occupied. Downtown is at a 98% occupancy and Midtown is at a 97% occupancy and that’s a statistic that is continuing to increase”.
So what are we going doing to do? There is clearly a very high demand for housing in the Downtown Detroit and Midtown Detroit areas – specifically rental units. About 85% of these markets are rental units and 15% are owner_occupied units.
Rachel Perschetez of Live Detroit discusses statistics from 7.2 SQ MI A Report on Greater Downtown Detroit
Sachse Construction, a Detroit based construction management firm, has a great solution to this problem of no housing – more housing. A lot more housing. This year Sachse Construction broke ground on two monumental projects for the City of Detroit: The Scott at Brush Park and DuCharme Place. The Scott at Brush Park will provide 199 mixed-use housing units ranging from studios to one, two and three bedroom apartments and Ducharme Place will provide 188 mixed-use housing units ranging from studios to one and two bedroom apartments. Both complexes will feature indoor parking structures and pool areas for residents along with some other really great amenities.
The Scott at Brush Park Location
DuCharme Place Location
Todd Sachse, the CEO and Founder of Sachse Construction, the developer of both projects, as well as the co-owner of The Scott at Brush Park, with sister company Broder and Sachse. Sachse said his vision for the Scott at Brush Park is, “to introduce a project that does not exist in the entire city of Detroit.” He went on to say, “actually, I would argue that I am not even sure that it exists anywhere in Michigan.”
The Scott at Brush Park is going to be a true game changer for downtown Detroit. As Sachse says, “It’s about creating a community, not just an apartment complex.” Sachse is excited about this project, because its creating a living space that provides amenities that also act as services: libraries, a pool, conference spaces, a bike shop, pet washing stations and bike storage. The Scott at Brush Park will be managed by Broder and Sachse Real Estate,
Rendering of The Scott at Brush Park
The Scott at Brush Park will help catch Detroit up to other cities in the country that have similar apartment complexes, such as Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta. The best thing about this astounding apartment complex is that it will be affordable for the middle class Detroiters. Units will range from $900 a month to $2900 a month. A $900 studio, in any city located next to the epicenter of that city’s sports team, is unheard of. The area is also centrally located for residents who work in the Downtown, Techtown and Midtown areas.
Sachse went on to explain saying that Ducharme Place, is in a secondary market, because it is located directly outside the downtown market. This location, Lafayette Park, was not hit as hard financially as other areas in Detroit. Due to the proximity of being barely outside of the city center the rates of these units will be a little less, ranging from $900-$1800 a month.
Ducharme Place is located directly next to Lafayette Central Park
Ground breaking for Ducharme Place took place on November 6th, 2015. Unlike The Scott at Brush Park, Sachse Construction is only acting as the general contractor for the DuCharme Place project. Walter Cohen and his son David Cohen are the owners of the project. The Ducharme Project is a $45 million dollar project.
Construction Site of DuCharme Place
A local Detroit resident, Ben Alfaro, who is a writer and teacher with the InsideOut Literary Arts Projects, highlights a problem with all the “new and attractive housing.” According to the US Census Bureau, the average annual income in Detroit is $25,193, and Alfaro points out that the new housing does not seem to be targeted towards the residents who already live in the city. He states, “One may argue that new development isn’t aligned with income in the city, because it’s not for Detroit residents.”
Proponents of Alfaro’s train of thought, like to point out that new housing developments are at the expense of its current residents and that inner-city inhabitants are often stuck in terrible cycles of economic failures, such as failing public school systems, high unemployment, and moreover, are often unable to afford the ever-increasing housing rates and are therefore, pushed out.
Indeed, Alfaro goes on to say that, “the housing is for more affluent people, typically outside of [the]city limits or newly migrated to the city. That begins to present a problem, especially in such an historically deindustrialized and impoverished place like Detroit, when new, often wealthy, white bodies become the focus of development and capital [investments] in Downtown, Midtown and Corktown, but poor, black bodies around town are still dealing with stripped services, dilapidated housing and lacking economic freedom.”
Notwithstanding the truth that oftentimes housing developments built in a city’s epicenter, focus on “often wealthy, white bodies,” there are clearly, many benefits to this purported gentrification.
Significantly, developing and building more new housing, in a city that was plainly in her elder years, is in a way, a type of social Darwinism; it is a process of creating the sorely needed renewal to ensure the survival of the city herself. Increased new construction of housing units, no matter what level income they target, helps to increase competition among builders and, importantly, to eventually reduce competition among renters, once an ample supply is available. This helps to keep prices down both in newer, luxury level units, as well as in lower income units. Supply matters.
Perhaps even most important, most residents people would agree that Detroit’s streets now feel safer and they are no longer an embarrassment. Detroit is becoming a safer city through the recent investments and construction happening in the city.
Benjamin Alfaro gives insight into what new upscale housing developments in Downtown Detroit means for other Detroit residents
One thing that is missing though is the high-end luxury housing that is often seen in other downtown cities. Everything is at one’s fingertips. Property values are typically much higher in downtown areas, because they are at the epicenter of a city. Alfaro furthers explains that he thinks luxury housing does ultimately belong downtown over other neighborhoods and from an urban planning point of view, it is well known that when prices are raised in a particular area, the costs surrounding that area begin to rise too. Currently this can be seen in the Lafayette Park district. As soon as ground was broken on the DuCharme Place, the neighboring Lafayette Towers, a high-rise apartment complex, raised their rental prices $150 per unit a month.
Rendering of DuCharme Place, hanging in the on-site construction trailer
Sachse explains it in layman’s terms why Downtown and Midtown are becoming more expensive. “As any city develops, it started with its nucleus – where commerce is going on and it typically grows in concentric circles. So we will see that over the next few decades, because it will take deccades is that Detroit will regrow in concentric circles, this will happen from the cost of living. In any city the closer you are to urban area, central business district or other ares such as arts and culture areas you will see that they are the most expensive and then as you get further out it becomes less expensive.”
It is very important that one recognizes the fact that as Downtown and Midtown Detroit become increasingly more expensive, it will push development further outside of the center, thereby creating more housing that is not necessarily in the epicenter of the most populated area of the city.
Todd Sachse discusses why Downtown and Midtown are becoming more expensive
Jim Jehle, a Senior Project Manager for Sachse Construction working on both the Ducharme Place and The Scott at Brush Park projects, anticipates they projects will be completed in December of 2016. Leasing for both complexes will begin in Jan. 2016.
Jim Jehle gives insight to the expected completion of the projects
For further reading on these projects or for information about the great Detroit area demographics check out these sites:
The DuCharme website
Detroit 7.2 SQ MI Report
Scenes from a Changing Detroit by The Atlantic
M-Live article about The Scott at Brush Park
LIVE Detroit gives weekly updates of available Detroit rental units and homes for sale