Massive Elton Park project in Corktown neighborhood almost complete

After two years, construction on new housing in Corktown is nearly complete.

"We had feedback from quite a variety of people that have said it's hard to believe these buildings haven't been here forever," said Tysen McCarthy, vice president of Soave Real Estate.

The housing project is part of the Elton Park development plan, a massive undertaking that would transform Detroit's oldest neighborhood and add mixed-use housing on a level not seen in decades. The site of the iconic checker cab building on Trumbull near Michigan Avenue, it was built nearly a century ago.

McCarthy said the structure was converted into 52 units and a parking deck for the residents to use.

"The whole concept was to take an area that was green field and parking spaces for Tiger ball games for 80 years and really create a neighborhood that hadn't existed for quite some time," he said.

It's not the only building down there either. Along with the checker cab building are six other mixed-use structures near old Tiger stadium. Elton Park includes the Robertson and Crawford. Both carry historical significance, with the Robertson being named after the first taxi driver to paint black and white checkers on his cab and the Crawford, being named after Crawford Park.

"We knew the importance of this neighborhood to everybody," McCarthy said, "…brought our designs to the neighborhood."

The numbers behind the projects carry as much weight as their historical precedent. The Crawford will have 40 one and two-bedroom apartments with high end appliances and flooring, with retail space on the first floor. There will be 940-square foot apartments on Trumbull near Elizabeth Street, along with four, three-level town homes, which are inspired by Irish row houses.

Once phase one is complete, the project will span five blocks, equaling 151 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space.

"We turned to our architects, held up the picture and said please do this," said McCarthy.

They delivered too. The checker building is already 50 percent occupied, with pre-leasing available for the remaining apartments. Construction is set to be completed in the next couple months.