Colony & Fisher Arms Apartments
A story of buildings and communities being revived, and lives being renewed.
A home. Comprised of two buildings, each with two wings. Ready to take flight.
To escape from the deterioration that was happening within its walls, its floors, and the lives of its inhabitants. Yet, most didn’t have the means to leave and start anew. So they stayed in this crumbling building they called home. Among the violence. The murder. The drugs. The theft. They held out hope that one day their home would be revived. That one day they would feel safe within its walls.
That day finally came. In 2013, Colony and Fisher Arms Apartments, one of the most problematic buildings in Detroit’s history, embarked on a multi-million dollar rehabilitation and restoration process. A successful and committed partnership between Cinnaire, Chesapeake Community Advisors, Inc., Building Blocks Non-Profit, and the City of Detroit allowed for unique financing, a new and improved management approach, and wide-spread community impact. Prominently located adjacent to Detroit’s Gold Coast, Indian Village, and East Village historic neighborhoods, Colony and Fisher Arms, now named River Crest Apartments, is a true representation of the revitalization efforts taking place in the city of Detroit. Not only are buildings and communities being revived, but lives are being renewed through these efforts.
“We feel safe. We can finally sleep good at night.”
Sakina, along with her three young children, found themselves without a stable place to call home. Due to financial struggles, Sakina was forced to move her family from one house to another. Eventually, she realized that she wanted a better life for herself and her children. She woke up one day and thought, “I have three babies that look up to me. I have to get my establishment together for them.”
In September 2010, Sakina and her children moved into their first home at Colony and Fisher Arms Apartments. She soon realized that her new home was not the best environment for her children, but she felt that she didn’t have anywhere else to go. So, she stuck it out. She’s very thankful that she did. Since the rehabilitation of the building and new management has taken control, Sakina says, “Everything is better. The apartment. The atmosphere. The environment. The staff. It has been a blessing.” Her children went from crying most days and wanting to move out, to having smiles on their faces and being proud to call Colony and Fisher Arms Apartments their home.
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When Alfonso moved into Colony and Fisher Arms Apartments 20 years ago, water flowed through the intricate fountains in the lobby. Friendly social gatherings took place on the polished marble floors, and in front of the warmly lit fireplaces. It was a haven for Alfonso, who had moved to America, from the Virgin Islands, to see what America had to offer.
“When I first moved here, it was nice. It was real nice.”It was in 2010 that Alfonso began to see a negative change within Colony and Fisher Arms and the surrounding area. He attributes poor management and an influx of criminal activity to the initial downward spiral of the apartment complex.
“People started getting robbed, killed. Apartments started getting broken into. It was just crazy. The only thing I was thinking about was if I was going to be the next one to get killed around here.”
Alfonso began to consider the possibility of moving out of his apartment. He was tired of having to worry about his safety every time he walked into his home. Fortunately for Alfonso, and the other residents, a group of people cared enough to make a change. A change for the better. A change that not only would impact the residents, but also the surrounding community.
Everybody feels safe in here now. They continue to improve the building for us. We gotta be happy to be here. We are blessed. I am telling you, we are blessed. We got a good place to stay.
Prior to living at Colony and Fisher Arms Apartments, Katherine was living in a homeless shelter. Life had always been a struggle for her. On a daily basis, she worried about how she was going to eat, where she was going to sleep. Katherine had slept in cars, stayed with family, and squatted in houses. Yet, despite, her struggles, she continued to hold onto hope that a better future was on the horizon.
“It’s peaceful. It is something that I can call mine. I appreciate it.”
In 2012, Katherine’s application for an apartment at Colony and Fisher Arms was accepted. Although she finally had a place of her own, she still found herself unsettled. Due to the daily criminal activity that had taken over, Katherine was scared to go outside of her apartment. She didn’t feel safe.
Today, since the rehabilitation, Katherine finds herself living in a very different environment at Colony and Fisher Arms Apartments. It is safe. It is clean. It is stable. It is home for Katherine.
Now that Katherine’s days of worrying about her safety and well-being are over, she is able to start focusing on her lifelong dream of opening a homeless shelter. She hopes to use her struggles and experiences in life to help better the lives of others.
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Building Blocks Non-Profit & Chesapeake Community Advisors, Inc