Cinnaire’s NMTC Investment Brings Equitable Mixed-Use Housing & Social Entrepreneurship Incubator to the Heart of Detroit’s Midtown

Mixed use housing project in Detroit

Cinnaire’s Peter Giles and Sherita Smith recently joined Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council President Mary Sheffield, the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), and Develop Detroit to celebrate the grand opening for The Freelon at Sugar Hill, a new mixed-use and mixed-income development located in Midtown Detroit’s Sugar Hill Arts District. Cinnaire provided $5 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation in partnership with PNC Bank, Building America CDE, and Michigan Community Capital.

The $38 million development includes the revitalization of a vacant lot to create 68 apartments, 11,900 square-feet of retail space and a 160-unit space parking garage. Located across the street from the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, 14 of the 20 affordable housing units were created for veterans served by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HUD-VASH program through the Dingell VA Center. All veterans’ apartments are fully furnished and decorated by the Interior Designers Coalition for Change, a volunteer organization that completed the work using best practices in trauma-informed design. Six additional affordable apartments serve residents earning up to 80 percent AMI. All residents enjoy access to a community room, lounge, outdoor green space, workout room and attached parking.

“The Freelon at Sugar Hill demonstrates the impact possible when public and private partners come together to bring equitable development to Detroit neighborhoods,” said Sherita Smith, Senior Vice President, Cinnaire Community Connection. “We have created a mixed-income community that not only provides high-quality, modern housing options for Detroiters, but also advances racial equity through place-based development and social entrepreneurship opportunities.”

Located within walking distance to Detroit’s museums, music venues, restaurants, and education and employment opportunities, The Freelon at Sugar Hill provides commercial space supporting local enterprises that are either woman or immigrant led. Current businesses located in The Freelon at Sugar Hill include Cure Nail House, a philanthropic beauty salon providing luxury nail service that works to empower its community through workforce development and training, and Hazara Coffee House, a coffee house owned by first-generation immigrants who work to honor their heritage by roasting and serving coffee that is inclusive of all people and cultures and brings people together.

“The New Markets Tax Credit is a significant source of capital supporting minority, women-led and mission-driven small businesses in communities across the country,” said Peter Giles, Cinnaire Senior Vice President, Business Development. “Small businesses, like Cure Nail House and Hazara Coffee House, create jobs, support their local community, and contribute to Detroit’s vibrant culture. Detroiters are well-known for their creativity, unique goods, and first-class services. The Freelon at Sugar Hill is a prime example of how the NMTC brings inclusive and equitable projects to revitalize neighborhoods to become thriving, cultural destinations.”

The Freelon at Sugar Hill is named in honor of Phil Freelon, one of the most celebrated Black architects in U.S. history. He was best known for leading the design team for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and Atlanta’s National Center for Civic and Human Rights. The building was one of Freelon’s last developments that he worked on prior to his death in 2019.

Additional project partners include the City of Detroit, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation/Michigan Strategic Fund, Building America CDE, Michigan Community Capital, POAH, Develop Detroit, the Home Depot Foundation, and the Rocket Community Fund.


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