Real Estate Insider: Site planning ongoing for historic Woodward Avenue church property, UM credit union says

The University of Michigan Credit Union says it is still working on a site plan for the historic former First Presbyterian Church at 2930 Woodward Ave. that it purchased more than two years ago.

“We have been working diligently to make sure that our site plan will exceed the needs of our membership and the community,” Haley Burrill, media coordinator for UMCU, said in an email. Additional questions were not answered, and no one was made available for an interview.

At the time of the purchase, Tiffany Ford, the president and CEO of UMCU, said it was planning to build a 4,000-square-foot branch with 12 full-time employees on some of the 2-acre property’s surface parking.

More details were expected in the first quarter of 2018, but none have been released.

It certainly isn’t the only project in the city or even in the Brush Park neighborhood that has stalled or been slow to get out of the ground, even as construction crews continue to work on the City Modern development on 8.4 acres of what was just a couple years ago mostly vacant land.

The property has about 150 parking spots, in addition to the church, a sanctuary and renaissance room.

The credit union paid $5.6 million for the property in August 2017, according to city of Detroit land records.

UM Credit Union was founded in 1954 and has $907.34 million in assets and nearly 95,000 members, according to its 2018 year-end financial report.

First Presbyterian Church opened in 1891 at Woodward Avenue and Edmund Place in Detroit. According to Historic Detroit, which tracks Detroit buildings and architecture, the building was designed by the architecture firm Mason & Rice. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The website says the Ecumenical Theological Seminary was gifted the church in 2002, a decade after it leased the space from the First Presbyterian Church.

The credit union is letting the seminary stay in the space.

Old Fiero Powerhouse imploded

The old Fiero Powerhouse in Pontiac at the former Fisher Body Plant was imploded this weekend.

The nearly 19-acre property at 824 St. Clair St. near Baldwin Avenue and East Kennett is anticipated to remain vacant, according to Vernon Gustafsson, Pontiac’s city planner.

LIFT staying in Corktown building five more years

The Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, commonly referred to as LIFT, has renewed its lease in a 100,000-square-foot Corktown building at 1400 Rosa Parks Blvd. for another five years.

The manufacturing institute, which is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. It moved into the building in 2015.

Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director of LIFT, said: “Both the Department of Defense and the State of Michigan put a stake in the ground by establishing this institute in the heart of American manufacturing. We are proud to be driving advanced manufacturing forward by developing unique technology innovations and educational tools for the nation right here in Detroit.”

The landlord is West Fort Street Properties LLC, an entity registered to real estate investor Neal MacLean in Royal Oak, according to city property records.

From around the web

• JC Reindl at the Detroit Free Press explores how a tax subsidy is helping some low- and moderate-income tenants at the former Elmwood Park Plaza apartment building, now called Elmwood Club Plaza Apartments, stay in the building at 750 Chene. Incoming CEO of Farmington Hills-based owner City Club Apartments Robert Platt and I discussed this project a bit earlier this year.

• Sonia Khaleel in Detroit Metro Times reports that three federal lawmakers — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo.; and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc. — are calling for the U.S. Department of Treasury Inspector General to investigate alleged political influence on Opportunity Zones, particularly citing a report last month from ProPublica that contended that Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s team exerted its considerable political and economic muscle to net federal Opportunity Zone tax breaks when they weren’t warranted. Jared Fleisher, Gilbert’s top lobbyist, refuted those claims in an interview.