Construction on Dr. Violet T. Lewis Village is expected to take about 16 months.
Courtesy Wallick Construction on Dr. Violet T. Lewis Village is expected to take about 16 months.


Officials have broken ground on a 105-unit affordable senior housing community on the former site of Michigan’s only historically Black college and university (HBCU).

Co-developed by Wallick and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan (PVM), the $29.3 million Dr. Violet T. Lewis Village involves the renovation of two historic structures on the Lewis College of Business site and the construction of a new four-story building.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was among the officials who took part in the recent groundbreaking.

“Affordable housing provides stability to families, which has been shown to improve their health, allows them to live closer to their jobs, and frees up money they can spend in their communities,” she said. “Let’s keep making the largest investments in housing in Michigan history and pursue our strategy of build, baby, build.”

The school was founded in 1928 by Dr. Violet T. Lewis as the Lewis Business College in Indiana and was later reorganized as the Lewis College of Business. The Detroit branch of the school was established in 1939 and moved to a new location in 1976. The college was designated as an HBCU in 1987 and was the only HBCU in Michigan. The Detroit campus has sat vacant since the college closed in 2013.

Funding for the new housing is provided in large part through federal low-income housing tax credits allocated by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), with critical gap funding from MSHDA, the city of Detroit, The Kresge Foundation, Merchants Capital, First Merchants Bank, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis.Dr. Violet T. Lewis Village will serve residents earning no more than 80% of the area median income (AMI).
Specifically, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the new-construction building ranges from about $783 to $840, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $983. The AMI income restriction for the new-build apartments is 60% of the AMI.

In the adaptive-reuse buildings, rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranges from about $427 to $786, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment ranges from $723 to $939. The AMI income restriction for the adaptive-reuse buildings ranges from 30% to 80% of the AMI. Additionally, there are five project-based voucher apartments in the adaptive-reuse buildings, which target people with even lower incomes.

“Our team is rehabilitating two of the buildings that were part of the college’s campus. When complete, there will be 32 apartment homes as part this adaptive reuse. A new four-story building with 73 apartments also will be built. In all there will be 105 safe, stable affordable homes for seniors in Detroit,” said Amy Albery, CEO of Wallick, a leading affordable housing and senior-living developer and owner.