Lincoln Street Art Park footprint to become 'Dreamtroit,' housing artists but staying weird

April 20, 2021, 10:47 AM by  Nancy Derringer

Artist's rendering of the project (Courtesy photo)

Has the world turned upside down, or are the Lincoln Street Art Park folks really going to be ... landlords?

They're really going to be landlords. 

Matt Naimi and Oren Goldenberg, self-styled "garbage man" and filmmaker respectively, announced plans this week for "Dreamtroit," a $20-million project to expand and convert the New Center-area Recycle Here/art park complex they own into affordable housing for artists, while still preserving its freak ethos. 

For years, the art park and surrounding spaces have been free-form, and free-spirited, party/hang venues, attracting crowds for such events as sunrises, full moons and Ragnarok. The new Dreamtroit project, they promise, will continue in that tradition, but also provide affordable living space for the artists who make those occasions memorable. 

"This was hatched out of necessity," said Goldenberg. "(The building) had massive deferred maintenance. The roof was collapsing, and it would have been millions just for that. So we looked at how can we get financing, and what is being financed in Detroit right now is housing."

The project started with $2.26 million from the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund. The rest, Naimi said, is being financed from "an assortment of affordable-housing loans, historic tax credits, brownfield TIFs and five community development financial institutions." The project broke ground Monday and is expected to be completed by early 2022. 

In a press release announcing the project, Goldenberg promised: “To anyone worried that this will change what can happen here, we are committed to keeping things ‘weird.’ We have spent countless hours working out how we can maintain the culture that we and Detroit love while still renovating these buildings into a safe, quality place to live and create.”

Live/work space is estimated to rent along a range of $365 to about $1,100, depending on amenities. According to the press release, 17 of the units designated affordable will be reserved for households at or below 50 percent area median income, 41 units at 80 percent AMI, and the remaining below the workforce housing level of 120 percent AMI. 

And the area with the collapsed roof won't be repaired, but will lose the rest of its roof to make an open-air space for art, as well as a venue space, called the Freezer.

Goldenberg called the project a risk, but one he and Naimi were willing to take. 

"It's insane," he said. "This project is insane. But we contributed the property, and we're willing to take risks for the betterment of the community."

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