In Michigan and elsewhere, there are quite a few homeless veterans. Southwest Solutions, a Detroit non-profit organization, has been very active in seeking opportunities to make homes available to people who are challenged in the housing market. They have renovated or developed more than a dozen buildings, many of them in southwest Detroit, using various governmental programs, private contributions and a variety of tax credits.
This is one of the "greenest" buildings in Detroit. Southwest Solution took the lead in building this facility that contains 150 residential units for veterans who might otherwise be homeless. There are 62 deep wells - 230 feet - that are used for heating and cooling. Four centrally located heat pumps for the heating and air conditioning of the residential units and the office space. Much of the first floor is devoted to suport services for the miliatry veterans who reside here. I believe that the Veterans Administration has an office in this new structure. About $23 million was spent to construct this building. Funds were obtained from the sale of bonds, from tax credits, from Michigan State housing authority and from many private grants. The building is unique in that it was designed to be as energy efficient as possible. Indeed, when it opened it may have been the “greenest” structure in the city. At the time of its opening, there were estimates that there were as many as four thousand veterans in the greater Detroit area either homeless or at risk of homelessness.
This building is conveniently located for veterans since it is about one mile north of the Dingell Veteran’s Adminstration hospital. It is also on an important historic site. From about 1909 until it was destroyed by fire in the summer of 2005, this was the site of the huge and very attractive red brick Everett-Metzger-Flanders automobile plant. That plant resembled the first generation vehicle plants such as the nearby Ford Piquette Street plant that is now a National Historic Landmark. It did not resemble the nearby Fisher Body #21 plant that reflects Albert Kahn's ingeneous use of structurally reinforced steel to create large and tall manufacturing plants with many windows. While some Flanders cars were built at the E-M-F plant that stood on this site for almost a century, that factory was taken over by the successful Studebaker firm shortly after 1910 and was their major assembly plant from that time until the early 1920s. That is, Studebaker did not have a major automobile assembly plant in South Bend until after World War I. Studebaker continued to build cars here through the late 1920s. In the early 1930s, Studebaker assembled a reliable and attractive new line of low-cost vehicles in the E-M-F plant, the Rockne. Because of the Depression, it was not a financial success so the last Studebaker products rolled off assembly lines here in about 1934. The plant was subsequently used by several auto makers but not as an assembly plant.
Architect: Jason Hayburn of Shelter Design Studio of Royal Oak
Date of Completion: 2010
Architectural style: Functional vernacular
Website for architect: http://www.shelterstudiollc.com/portfolio/piquette-square/
Website for Piquette Square: http://www.swsol.org/piquette_square
Website for Southwest Solutions: http://www.swsol.org/
City of Detroit Designated Historic District: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
Photograph: July 28, 2011
Description updated: Janurary, 2016
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