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Detroit aims to revive historic Paradise Valley with new development

Detroit officials announce Paradise Valley redevelopment plans.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Detroit officials announce Paradise Valley redevelopment plans.

More upscale development is coming to downtown Detroit.

These new plans are part of what’s being dubbed the Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment District.

It aims to revive the area’s past as a vibrant center of African American culture. The original Paradise Valley left a huge imprint as a hub of blues, jazz and vibrant entertainment culture on early 20th-century Detroit.

Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority bought five buildings in the current Harmonie Park area in 2006.

On Wednesday, the Detroit Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-public arm of city government, announced the five winning developers after a “comprehensive selection process.”

Hiram Jackson is the lead investor for one project, called Hastings Place. The name invokes an iconic street in the former Detroit neighborhood known as Black Bottom, which included Paradise Valley.

“We’re building an 85,000 square foot facility. On the first floor, we’re going to have 12,000 square feet of retail. And today we’re looking at 60 luxury apartment units,” said Jackson, who noted that a percentage of the apartments would be set aside as affordable housing unit.

Other redevelopment projects include a boutique hotel, a music lounge/restaurant, and a cigar bar.

One thing that’s not included is the Carr Center. The non-profit, an artists’ hub devoted to fostering African-American music and culture, failed in its effort to stay in its current headquarters, and be part of the new Paradise Valley.

But investor Dennis Archer, Jr. says all the developers are committed to maintaining Paradise Valley’s cultural legacy.

“A group of us decided that we were going to participate in this competitive process collaboratively,” Archer said.

The development plans also call for the creation of a Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment Conservancy to sponsor music and cultural events in the district’s public spaces.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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