Promotional Video For Gentrified Cap Park Apartments Is Under Attack As 'Unbearable'

March 13, 2014, 7:07 PM

The poor people are almost gone and the young people with money will be moving in.

That's the story of one building in one hot corner of downtown that is the subject of a promotional video, above, that Paul Beshouri at Curbed Detroit calls "unbearable" and "so awful, you might end up hate-watching it again and again."

The video also comes under attack from Aaron Foley at Jalopnik Detroit:

"There's no reason why a video promoting a refurbished apartment building should reek of smarm, self-satisfaction and the kind of smugness that'd make even the most cynical among us wince." 

The building is The Griswold, a 12-story structure that has been rebranded as The Albert, as in Albert Kahn, the famous Detroit architect who designed it in the late 1920s. Until recently, the 127-unit building housed mostly low-income seniors, many of them disabled -- and those renters were kicked out to make room for people who could pay market rates.

In a word, what's happening in the Griswold is a textbook case of gentrification, which is why the tone and images of the four-minute video are sensitive.

As Curbed notes:

Remember how this renovation began by kicking out the building's previous population of low-income seniors? To celebrate that triumph, the video starts and ends with a young person making a bold declaration "Detroit is MY generation's city." 

When the previous tenants got their eviction notices last spring, they reacted with anger, fear and philosophy, asking why there doesn't seem to be a place for poor people in the future downtown that is slowly emerging from the drawing boards, according to a story in Deadline Detroit by Bill McGraw.

"There's all this hubbub about a 'new Detroit,'" Recardo Berrien, 58, a Griswold tenant, said at the time. "I was born and raised in Detroit. For us not to be part of this 'new Detroit' is absurd. We don't see 'us' in none of this. No elderly and poor. We are nowhere in the plans of anyone down here."

The issues raised by the Griswold residents are increasingly heard throughout downtown and Midtown, as surging development rapidly sets apart the 7.2-square-mile area from the rest of the 139-square-mile city and new housing for young workers with good jobs dislodges longtime residents.

The partnership that renovated the Griswold was created by Todd Sachse and Richard Broder, principals in both Sachse Construction and Broder & Sachse Real Estate. Sachse Construction has done much of the renovation on buildings purchased in the central business district by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert.

Planners see Capital Park as a pedestrian-friendly hub for art  galleries and cafés. In recent years, it has been a scruffy park surrounded by several abandoned and run-down buildings.

The gentrification issue arose recently when a young resident of a building across Capitol Park from The Albert wrote a first-person story on Vice.com about getting evicted.

Deadline Detroit's Jeff Wattrick stuck up for Gilbert in this response to the Vice piece.


Click here to see a time-lapse video of Capitol Park by Detroit-based cinematographer Logan Siegal. 

Read more:  Curbed Detroit

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