Detroit Food Commons honored with community development award by Novogradac
When developers broke ground on Detroit Food Commons last year, they were not just bringing a multi-faceted anchor development to the city’s historic North End, they were spearheading a transformative project that directly impacts racial equity, health, entrepreneurship, community revitalization and resident engagement.
In recognition of its innovation and potential for impact, the project was honored last week at the Novogradac Spring New Markets Tax Credit Conference, taking home the award for Small Business Qualified Low-Income Community Investment (QLICI) of the Year. New Markets Support Company (NMSC) was proud to help finance the development, teaming up with US Bancorp and Michigan Community Capital to commit a combined $20 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocation. The project received additional support from Classic Lake Consulting.
The project’s developers—the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCSN) and Develop Detroit—expect to open doors to the new facility this summer, aiming to serve 30,000 people. The first floor will include a full-service grocery store operated by Detroit People’s Co-op—one of the few Black-led, community-owned grocery stores in the country—as well as a cafe featuring healthy, locally produced food. The second floor will offer incubator kitchens for food entrepreneurs, a banquet center for community events and administrative space for DBCSN. The site also includes space for 15 outdoor vendor booths where residents can sell crafts, books, art and value-added food items.
The entire development team—from the general contractor to the architect—is minority led.
“This project reimagines the idea of a grocery co-op as a community centerpiece,” said Kevin Boes, president of NMSC, an affiliate of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the country’s largest community development organizations. “It is a model built on the ideas of health and equity—designed by a Black-led organization for a majority-Black community with the goal of serving people with low-to-moderate incomes, as well as more affluent residents,” he added.
The development also reinforces other local investments, including more than $200 million in LISC support for affordable housing, economic development, health, safety and jobs throughout the city, said Camille Walker Banks, executive director at LISC Detroit, who also wanted to recognize the legacy of Julie McBride a former colleague who left her mark on the design of the project before succumbing to illness.
“The Detroit Food Commons is a catalytic project for the North End,” Banks said. “It directly addresses the need for healthy food. It creates good jobs and encourages a range of upstart economic activity. And it supports opportunities for creative community engagement. It is a quality-of-life project that is helping Detroiters build the future we want and need.”
“It is a model built on the ideas of health and equity—designed by a Black-led organization for a majority-Black community with the goal of serving people with low-to-moderate incomes, as well as more affluent residents”