Dan Gilbert affiliate to buy former Brewster Douglass housing site

- Hometown billionaire and real estate tycoon Dan Gilbert may soon add another Detroit landmark to his portfolio.

Douglas Acquisitions, an affiliate of Gilbert's Bedrock firm, is in negotiations to buy the old Brewster Douglass site from the Detroit Housing Commission for $23 million.

The plan is to redevelop it into mixed-income housing.

"It's not a shock," said Donyetta Hill. "We knew it was coming, we just didn't know what was going to happen with the land."

Donyetta Hill and Deborah Sherrod-Lugo were born and raised in Brewster Douglass. Their families were essentially forced out when the last of the apartments closed about a decade ago.

They doubt there will be room for them when the site is redeveloped.

"So much redevelopment is happening down there, so many new things," Hill said. "Good things are happening down there. But to me, they don't want us down there."

It's a charge Gilbert and company would deny. There could be roughly 700 residential units in the development according to Richard Hosey, chairman of the Detroit Housing Commission.

He says Bedrock committed to set aside more than 20 percent of those units for affordable housing and an undetermined number for low income tenants making 30 to 60 percent of the area median income.

"The combination of demand and rental rate growth, bodes very well for a project like this," said Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. "And it's very important to continue to support quality product in good locations and affordable."

The last of the Brewster Douglass housing projects were demolished in 2014 bringing a rich history to a crumbling end. Several stars called the apartments home like Motown singers Diana ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard as a well as actresses and comedians Lily Tomlin and Loni Love.

"This is going to be a place where it is going to be expensive to live in," said Lugo. "And I want to be part of it because I love this city. I love my city. I think we are doing a nice job. Let's not forget about the lifers like me. I'm a lifer here."

Bedrock's CEO Jim Ketai released a statement:

"Bedrock is excited about this opportunity and looking forward to closely with the Detroit Housing Commission and the City of Detroit to transform this vacant site into a mixed-use neighborhood for all Detroiters."

The sale could be done by spring of 2018 barring any restrictions of the HUD requirements. 

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