February 24, 2024

Housing Finance Development

It's Your Housing Finance Development

Michigan State University invests in Piquette Flats

Detroit-based The Platform LLC’s $38.2 million Piquette Flats project involves converting the former Studebaker Sales and Service Building into 161 workforce apartments at 411 Piquette next to the former Ford Piquette Avenue Plant where the Model T was born. Construction has started, with work expected to wrap up in the summer next year.

“MSU is pleased to be making an investment with The Platform in the Piquette Flats project,” said Philip Zecher, chief investment officer for MSU. “This is an opportunity to invest with an experienced partner in a quality asset; the location is in an emerging area with the potential for long-term growth.”

It is not clear how much of a stake the university is taking in the project.

The project, which has been in the works in varying stages for several years, is slated to have 71 studio apartments, plus 87 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units renting between 60% and 120% of the Area Median Income, a federally designated figure that is controversial because it includes suburban incomes and therefore skews upward what is considered affordable to residents of a city that is one of the poorest in the nation.

A news release says 60% of the units will be affordable to people making 80% of AMI and below.

“Milwaukee Junction is the birthplace of the U.S. auto industry where, in the early 20th century, manufacturers sprang up around the Milwaukee and Grand Trunk railroad lines,” Peter Cummings, chairman and CEO of The Platform, said in a statement. “Piquette Flats allows us to repurpose this important historic building and provide affordable housing options for a diverse range of city residents.”

Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group is the project architect while Oak Park-based PCI One Source Contracting is the general contractor. Once built, the property would be leased out and managed by Beztak Properties, based in Farmington Hills. Southfield-based Bernard Financial Group worked on the financing.

The redevelopment includes public financing such as a $3 million, 12-year property tax abatement and $2 million in brownfield tax-increment financing. There is also a $7 million low-interest loan from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Flagstar Bank has first-position debt on the redevelopment.

Renovations include electrical, mechanical and plumbing upgrades, new historically accurate windows, facade restoration and a new roof and elevators. Amenities planned include a fitness center, lobby lounge, a dog run and pet washing station and laundry rooms on each floor.