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Developer doubles size of Harbortown marina project

Detroit riverfront's revival prospects, hot condo market spur plans for four towers.

By R.J. King / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The rising demand for condominiums and the fledgling revival of downtown Detroit's riverfront has spurred the developer of the upscale Harbortown residential marina community to double its condo project's size.

Expansion of the $300 million high-rise condo complex is the result of strong interest spurred partly by low mortgage rates and aging baby boomers, said Jamie Murray, president of Slavik Murray Investment Co. LLC in Farmington Hills, the project's developer.

Harbortown officials will start work next year on the first of four high-rise residential towers that will add a combined 750 condos to the riverfront skyline. That's up from two towers and 300 condos that the owners originally planned when they bought the complex in late 2003.

"The thriving entertainment district, Wayne State University's emergence as a cultural hub and new tech jobs have created a demand for downtown housing," said Murray, who bought Harbortown two years ago for an undisclosed price.

Nationally, condo sales have been hot in recent years, spurred in part by low mortgage rates that now average 5.6 percent in Metro Detroit, along with more open floor plans and the demand from busy professionals to reduce hectic lifestyles.

Some of Murray's 15-story Great Lakes Tower condos in Harbortown will be available for sale this weekend at prices from $130,000 to more than $300,000.

Recent buyers Sylvia and Norman Moore exchanged the maintenance of their single-family home two years ago for a high-rise apartment overlooking the Detroit River and Belle Isle.

While the couple never anticipated becoming homeowners again, the Moores decided to buy their two-bedroom apartment as part of a recent condo conversion at Harbortown, which is along East Jefferson, near McDougall.

"We have great views of the Detroit River, Belle Isle and the U.S. Coast Guard facility," said Sylvia Moore. "Just looking out the window everyday, you see something new."

During a Wednesday tour of the Great Lakes Tower at Harbortown, which offers 172 apartments, interior designer Shirley Maddalena Edson showed off numerous upgrades in the common areas and upcoming condos, including marble floors, granite countertops, wood trim, a lobby fireplace, upholstered wall panels and upgraded community room.

"Our goal is to offer the finest residences along the riverfront, because we feel quality will drive demand," Murray said.

The neighboring Spinnaker Tower, which offered 101 apartments, was sold out following an opening sales weekend last spring. Murray hopes to repeat that success this weekend.

The new towers will be 15-29 stories high.

"The new high-rise units will be constructed in phases, and we are planning to add a community health club, spa and pool," Murray said. "We also have interest from various restaurants that want to operate a dining facility for the residents."

Other developers also are pursuing condo conversions along the riverfront. Last year, Riverfront Apartments, a three-tower complex next to Joe Louis Arena, began offering condo conversions priced from $100,000 to $450,000. To date, 171 of 290 units have been sold.

"Half of our buyers came from current residents, while the other half was made up mostly of people from the suburbs," said Peter Cummings, chairman of Ram Development Co. in Detroit, which is overseeing the Riverfront Apartments' conversion.

You can reach R.J. King at (313) 222-2504 or [email protected].

6,595 Posts
Well, Harbortown is sort of a self-contained city, so besides traffic and the skyline, it won't have much impact on the riverfront. It's still adding new people to the city, so it's a good thing.
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