DETROIT-One of the most anticipated development areas in the Downtown is along the Detroit River, where previously the only property that had any type of success is the massive Renaissance Center, now owned by General Motors..which happens to be one of the firms leading the public-private charge to create the Detroit Riverwalk. As the new promenade comes together, condo projects have been announced along the Riverwalk. However, these plans haven’t exactly sprung together, given the Detroit economy, and now developer Dave Bing has announced he’s made changes to his $60 million Watermark plan.

The project, unveiled two years ago, was for 112 condo units in three buildings: a nine-story structure with a parking structure as the first two floors, a row of three-four story townhouses and single-family homes. The property is southeast of Atwater, and northeast of Orleans. Now, Bing has cut the number of condos to 98, eliminated the single homes, added more expensive penthouse models to the tall building and increased the size of the townhomes.

Paige Peabody, founder and CEO of Esquire Properties, is marketing the property. She tells that the changes were made because the economy forced out the investment buyers. “A couple years back, we had many investors looking into Detroit. Real estate was king then, and our values were so low people thought they had nowhere to go but up. Then the last couple years, with the mortgage crisis, we found ourselves in a bad situation, and all our investors dropped out. People who are buying condos like this now are people who are loyal to Detroit, they know Detroit and love Detroit, and believe it’s going somewhere.” She says these people likely already live in the city, and are either looking to upgrade their homes or live in apartments and want to have a nice condo.

The new size condos now run from 3,000 sf to 5,000 sf, she says. They start at $350,000 and run to $1.5 million. In fact, the $1.5 million unit has already been sold, as has a $1.3 million unit. “We’re now adding eight more penthouses, combined units, that will run at about $700,000. Our marina townhomes will run about $800,000, they face the new Tri-Centennial Park along the water.” She says about 40% of the units have been sold, and the developer needs at least 60% sold to start construction. “We hope to break ground by Oct. 1,” she says. The property, part of a former cement plant that was demolished by the city, includes a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone, which will provide tax breaks to residents.

Peabody, of course, says she’s one of those that believes in the city’s resurgence. “I think we’re at a seven or eight out of 10, with 10 being fully on the way back. The only thing that’s hurting us is our reputation, but I think that will change with all the new plans coming online,” she says.

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