Historic Brewster-Douglass Housing projects coming down


A press conference was held on a brisk, cold Thursday morning in Detroit just outside Downtown. It brought some great news for the development and future of the city.

Mayor Dave Bing announced to a small crowd of media members that the former housing project known as the Frederick Douglass (Brewster-Douglass) Housing projects will start to be demolished by the end of the year and will have full demolition in the summer.

The city was awarded a $6.5 million grant by the Department of Urban Housing and Development (HUD) to demolish the 18.5 acre site.

It is comprised of four, 12-story high-rise apartment buildings, two six-story mid-rise apartments, and 75 apartment townhomes, that all-together, has 661 units.

The property is owned by HUD, and once the site passes all the tests and environmental procedures, actual demolition won’t be until the summer of 2013.

The complex is was the first of it’s kind to be built. Construction ran from the 1930s to the 1950s as it was subsidized housing for poor African Americans in a poor community of Detroit called Black Bottom. A few famous Detroiters used to call it home.

The historic towers and surrounding buildings will come down (minus the recreation center) by the end of next year. (Photo Courtesy: DetroitNews.com)

It housed famous Motown singer Diana Ross of The Supremes, along with famed boxer Joe Louis, who learned to box at the local recreation center, which now sits empty.

When the complex is completely demolished, the site will be up for grabs, a buffet of sorts, for developers. Adjacent to Eastern Market, Brush Park, Midtown, and Downtown, it is prime real estate for developers who want to get involved in the re-birth of the city in a prime location.

What we know is that the Dequindre Cut, an urban pathway that was renovated on a former rail-line, will be extended through the site. It starts at the foot of the Detroit river and goes all the way up to Gratiot Ave. on the edge of Eastern Market. The extension will go all the way up to Midtown.

Speculation will now begin on what and who could bid for the site. A mixed use development could be the best shot for the city, which was talked about back earlier in the year in the state of the city address by Mayor Bing.

“It’s been a major eyesore in the city, for a long, long time,” said Bing. “We don’t have a plan at this point, but there are a lot of smart people around. Developers in particular who are starting to line up and look at Detroit as a place to do business.”

To read the original article that appeared online only in The Michigan Journal, on Friday, November 16, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org

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