A plan to build a 16-story residential tower in Detroit’s Greektown district received key approvals Tuesday and could break ground as early as December.
The $64.6-million development, called The Exchange, would be built at 338 Gratiot on a half-acre site that is a surface parking lot. Once completed in 2022, it would be the largest new building in Greektown since the Greektown casino’s 400-room aquamarine hotel skyscraper opened in 2009.
The Exchange would contain 153 rental apartments and 12 for-sale condos on the 15th and 16th floors. There would be about 6,500 square-feet of ground-floor space that was originally planned to be retail space, but in response to the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the market demand, will instead be carved into 30 private for-lease offices.
The asking rents and prices for the apartments and condos have yet to be set, although 20% of the apartments will be reserved at below-market rents for those with incomes under the area median income. Overall, the development would be marketed as high-end housing.
The project’s developer is a limited liability company associated with LIFTbuild, which is a subsidiary of Southfield-based contractor and construction management firm Barton Malow.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved The Exchange for a Brownfield redevelopment incentive to capture $2.5 million in future state taxes and $188,444 in future local taxes over 18 years. In addition, Detroit City Council approved the project for a 15-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax abatement worth about $12.5 million that will lower property tax bills for its condo owners.
Marisa Varga, a senior director for LIFTbuild, said that Barton Malow is taking the rare step with The Exchange of developing its own project because the building will be the first in the U.S. to make use of LIFTbuild’s innovative top-down construction assembly approach and it wants a closer level of control over this pioneer development.
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Varga said the LIFTbuild approach can shave off 30% of the time ordinarily needed to construct a building through the use of floors that are assembled on the ground, then hoisted into place up a concrete structural spine.
Construction of The Exchange is scheduled to start in December and the first housing units could be ready in February 2022, she said.
The Exchange was envisioned well before COVID-19, and although it was delayed by the pandemic, the project still makes sense to build, Varga said.
“Through our market studies and research, we have determined there is a demand there for residential units regardless,” she said. “And two of our floors are for purchase, and if you look in the market for condos, there are few to none within the city for purchase.”
Barton Malow purchased LIFT technology in 2017. The technology was previously used in a pair of construction projects in India for Intel Corp., and decades earlier, an earlier version of LIFT technology was used for seven buildings between 1970 and 1980 in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and West Virginia, according to the LIFTbuild website.