DETROIT (WXYZ) — For decades, it has been a major symbol of blight in the city – an eyesore visible to all who travel the I-75/I-94 interchange.
Fisher Body #21 at Hastings and Harper has been standing empty for nearly three decades - open to urban explorers, graffiti artists, and ravaged by scrappers.
The Fisher Brothers made auto bodies for Cadillac and Buick vehicles at the plant starting in 1919. General Motors used the facility up until 1984.
“We tried everything to get a user for this plant, I wanted to reuse this historic building if we could,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Demolition was likely until two native Detroiters, African American developers Greg Jackson and Richard Hosey, stepped forward detailing their vision for a next chapter for the building.
“Not easy but we believe we’re up to the task and it’s the right thing at the right time,” said Developer Greg Jackson.
The proposed $134 million redevelopment plan would transform the cavernous, six-story, 600,000 square foot former factory into 433 apartments and retail space.
“The years have taken their toll, but the developers say this structure is 90% solid, rock-solid, and they’ll fix the 10%, shore it up, so it is ready for redevelopment, amazing,” WXYZ’s Dave LewAllen commented as he toured the abandoned facility.
“We know it’s viable, but more than that, you know, instead of being impossible, it’s actually a gem waiting to happen,” said Developer Richard Hosey.
During this year’s state of the city address, Mayor Mike Duggan pointed to the Fisher Lofts Project as well as how the work of many other Black entrepreneurs and developers is reshaping Detroit.
“These owners are investing more than $500 million in Detroit’s future, from one end of the city to another. Black developers, with black ownership, are rebuilding this city,” said Duggan.
And Duggan says Fisher Body #21 is the largest Black real estate investment in Detroit's history.
“We hope it does spur some others too, you know, step up because there are others who are able and capable within the city of Detroit,” said Jackson.
“In the near future, hopefully, this won’t be phenomenal, this will just be standard,” said Hosey.
“They could have picked something easier,” said LewAllen to Duggan.
“Oh, my goodness, ah, all I can tell you is, drive over the interchange of 94 and 75 and look at that building, and you tell me if you’re thinking that’s an apartment building,” said Duggan. “I mean, these guys are visionary and we’re really lucky to have them in Detroit.”
The first Community Benefits Ordinance Meeting (CBO) will be April 12th, 2022, and a series of meetings through the end of May have been planned.
Fisher Body meetings will be held via Zoom and in person at Ford Piquette Avenue Plant 461 Piquette Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
Please register for the City of Detroit meetings here