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DETROIT-Wayne State University officials recently cut the ribbon to open a $36 million mixed-use project here, that includes the 130-unit Studio One Apartments and about 30,000 sf of retail on Woodward Avenue. The South University Village project is between the college’s main campus and its medical school campus, on the site of the former Vernors Bottling Plant here between Forest Avenue and Canfield Street.

Prime Development, based in Grand Rapids, MI, built the apartments for the university and will manage the property. A company official could not be reached, but a university spokeswoman says more than 40% of the apartment building is occupied. Rents range from $870 to $1,395 per month for 646 sf to 1,008 sf, according to Prime’s Web site. The project also includes a 950-car parking deck.

“The property has completely transformed a vacant property into a vibrant retail and housing environment,” says the spokeswoman. “It really contributes to the whole lifestyle revitalization of the Midtown area in Downtown Detroit.”

Loft developments, both condo and apartment, started in earnest about 10 years ago to try to revitalize infill properties or unused sites. Though it hasn’t caught on as hoped, the Midtown area around WSU has been one of the city’s success stories. “There’s been a concentrated effort by staff, faculty and students to live on campus,” the spokeswoman says of the largely commuter school. “And the university has been very much the catalyst for urban development.”

Bringing any retail to downtown Detroit is impressive. Tenants that have already signed on at the 30,000 sf of retail include Fifth Third Bank, Radio Shack, Utrecht Art Supplies and a Biggby Coffee shop. More than $1 billion of new development is either finished or under construction in the Midtown area, according to the local University Cultural Center Association.

Now, the university plans to possibly add another phase to the Village project. The spokeswoman says the college is considering another $20 million condominium project. “I know this is being discussed, but I think at this point it’s conceptual. We want to see how the first phase does first, it’s something we’d be interested in doing.”

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