Last summer, state lawmakers threw a lifeline to the team behind a long-delayed major Midtown development proposal just days after the city hit it with tickets for serious blight violations.
The seven blight tickets issued on June 5, 2021, that came to my attention last week had sat unpaid in collections for months, totaling a little over $4,000 in fines.
The Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department says the tickets were for things like failure to abate unsafe conditions, failure to comply with an emergency or imminent danger order, failure to obtain a certificate of compliance and failure to maintain a vacant building or structure.
They were issued at The Mid property in Midtown just a few days before the state Legislature on June 9, 2021, signed off on granting its owner, an affiliate of Ciena Healthcare CEO Mohammad Qazi, a two-year extension on $8.97 million in brownfield tax credits that would have expired had the two chambers not intervened.
The expiration of those credits was portrayed as a fatal blow to the development plans, the last projected cost of which was $377 million.
“Confirming the blight tickets were not past due intentionally — apparently the city’s notifications/tickets had not actually reached The Mid team. They are now paid in full,” the spokesperson wrote in a Tuesday afternoon email. “Also worth noting the team is regularly paying for maintenance crews to clean up the site and recently had a clean-up session last month.”
I’ve reached out to a BSEED spokesperson to confirm the tickets have been paid.
Or the fees paid to architects, brokers, lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals since they came up with the vision to bring a pair of high-rises to the 3.78 acres at 3750 Woodward Ave. immediately north of Midtown’s Whole Foods store.
To be fair, The Mid is far from the only large-scale development site to be issued blight tickets.
For example, Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC received one for $100 for graffiti on the National Theater property that’s supposed to become part of the eventual Monroe Blocks project — whenever and if ever that happens. That was issued in July 2020 and wasn’t paid until last month, according to city records.
The Mid project is years behind its original schedule (of course, as is Monroe Blocks), now with a Sept. 14, 2023 deadline to have completed seven stories of a 15-story tower near Woodward and Mack avenues. Barring another intervention by state lawmakers, if it doesn’t hit that milestone, the brownfield credits expire.
In December, the spokesperson said the project would start construction by the second quarter, which is rapidly coming to a close, indicating to me that yet another stated timeline for building something at the key site will pass with nothing being done. The spokesperson did not provide an updated construction framework on Tuesday.
The Mid’s seven floors of a 15-story hotel were to total $50 million in investment on a $164 million first phase of the project, which has also received approvals for $58.3 million in brownfield tax-increment financing.
It has been one of the more ambitious formally proposed in Detroit in the last several years.
When it was first unveiled in March 2019, it included plans for a 25-story hotel and condominium tower and a 30-story residential tower, in addition to other buildings including more residential and retail space, plus parking and green space. They would be among the tallest buildings built north of Mack Avenue since the 1920s.
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