Jefferson-Chalmers district named a National Treasure, plans underway to revitalize neighborhood

Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 16:47:07-04

We all know Detroit is rich in history. Now, a national organization is giving recognition to one of the city's neighborhoods.

The Jefferson-Chalmers district is now considered a National Treasure.

But, many of the buildings and homes are vacant and in need of revitalization. That's where the National Trust for Historic Preservation comes in.

The organization named the district a National Treasure, which is a first for Michigan.

"We choose national treasures for a variety of reasons," said David Brown of the National Trust of Historic Preservation. "We have iconic sites but we are also looking for threatened places that can help us show, nationally, what can happen and we think that Jefferson-Chalmers is one of those kinds of treasures."

Being named a National Treasure opens a door for the community to be reborn, with access to grants to help restore the neighborhood.

"I love the mix of the commercial buildings that are here and then the residential buildings are just butted up right to it and they are both great. You've got a wonderful collection of 1920's era buildings."

That included the Vanity Ballroom, which will soon undergo a makeover.

Some say the Vanity gave the district a leg up for being named a National Treasure.

"Key point to that was the Vanity Ballroom. The vanity ballroom has been on the national  register of historic places now for two decades," explained Josh Elling of Jefferson East Inc. "Jefferson East has been working with the city to transfer the building to Jefferson East. We will be working on a redevelopment plan."

Now, with the new designation by the National Trust, both businesses and residents will benefit.

"This is important," Elling said. "Historic designation will bring more attention to the neighborhood as well as resources from the national trust to help both residents and building owners on Jefferson to revitalize our historic structures."

As for the Vanity Ballroom, first phase will begin later this Fall with major construction set to begin next Summer.