Detroit wants to buy Lee Plaza, other buildings from Housing Commission

Posted at 6:52 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 18:52:29-04

The Detroit Housing Commission has a problem. It owns too many dilapidated buildings it simply can’t rent out.

It hurts the commission on multiple fronts. Those buildings cost the commission money.  Plus, with high vacancy rates the commission doesn’t qualify for federal rent subsidy dollars for people in need.

Now the city is proposing a plan to buy those vacant buildings.

They include the Lee Plaza Building, the Woodland Apartments and more than 100 houses around the city. The city would pay about $1.7 million.

Leaders from the city and the Detroit Housing Commission allowed 7 Action News crews inside the historic Lee Plaza Building as they announced the proposal. 

It is a 15-story high rise with artistic architecture that will catch your eye. It is located on West Grand Boulevard, not far from the Motown Museum, and is recognized as historic.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lee Plaza Building is also a victim of history. It opened right before the depression as a luxury hotel, then quickly failed. It found new life as an apartment building, but as the economy again failed in Detroit.

it was abandoned. It has now stood vacant for 20 years.

“Our partners at the Detroit Building Authority and the Land Bank are experts and, we think, they have the talent necessary to market this,” said Arthur Jamison, Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Director.

Jamison said the city would not only preserve history if this proposal were approved, but would serve residents with more affordable housing options.

“The potential to rehabilitate a gem like this is great and the redevelopment interest is starting to be strong enough and of  high enough quality in the next 2 - 3 years you could see action in this building. I think it is a great sign of progress,” said Jamison.

City Council is expected to consider the deal  as soon as this week.