Ottawa block powers up
Gene Townsend’s Ottawa Block development grows cooler and grander. And spawns a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone.
It appears that Townsend’s new urbanism idea for Ottawa Block would significantly change the Genesee/ Downtown/Capitol Complex area. Townsend would build 76 condo miniums on the mostly vacant prop erty, bordered by Butler Boulevard and Ottawa, Ionia and Sycamore streets.
There’s also a planned mixed-use building, with loft-style condominiums above and retail on the ground floor, that would bring water to a residen tial desert, bordered on the south by a big parking lot and even bigger state government buildings. There’s also a planned Neighborhood Enterprise Zone that would encompass every thing between Saginaw Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Walnut Street (with a jog west on Shiawassee Street) and Pine Street. Residents, developers or prospective homebuy ers would be given tax breaks on new residential construction.
Since the project was announced, plans for Ottawa Block have changed. Townsend is predicting 76 condo miniums, 24 more than originally announced. The first 12 will go up mid block along Ottawa. We could start to see dirt being moved toward the end of the year, Townsend estimated.
One interesting part of the first building is that parking will go beneath it, slightly below street level. According to the Townsend’s plans, you wouldn’t be able to see any cars. Another hinge of the project, liter ally, is the mixed-use building at the corner of Ottawa and Sycamore. In earlier plans for the building, it faces Ottawa Street. But Townsend is con sidering changing the building into an “L” shape, so it would wrap around the corner of Ottawa and Sycamore. There would be 5,000 square feet of retail space, which would be room enough for four stores, with “very dramatic” two-floor lofts above.