Detroit’s construction boom comes to a halt

Detroit’s construction boom comes to a halt under stay-at-home order
Coronavirus has put all nonessential activities on hold—including construction

Construction at City Modern in Brush Park.

At the beginning of March, huge construction projects were underway in Detroit. By the end of the month, they had all stopped.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which was issued to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has halted all nonessential business operations in the state. Most construction projects are included as part of the order.

That has put work on a number of ambitious buildings—like the new Hudson’s development, Michigan Central Station redevelopment, and several Ilitch projects in District Detroit—on hold since the order went into effect on March 24 at midnight.

“In light of Governor Whitmer’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ executive order and Bedrock’s commitment to doing our part combatting COVID-19, all of our construction projects in Michigan are on hold until the order is lifted, and it is deemed safe to continue work,” a Bedrock Detroit spokesperson told Curbed Detroit. “We look forward to getting all of our projects back on track as soon as possible.”

A similar statement was provided by a spokesperson for Olympia Development of Michigan, the Ilitch-owned development company currently woking on the Eddystone Hotel and Women’s City Club Building.

Some companies, just before Whitmer announced the sweeping order, said they planned on continuing with construction. Even after the order went into effect, there was some confusion about whether it applied to all construction or if the state would grant exemptions.

But a FAQ released soon after provided clarification. Except for a handful of projects—construction on roads, bridges, telecommunications infrastructure, and public health infrastructure—all others “cannot be started or progressed while the order is in effect.” As with all other businesses, companies can perform “minimum basic operations” like ensuring the security of a site. Work to maintain the sanitation and infrastructure of homes can also continue.

But some in the industry have called for a suspension of public work projects as well. Crain’s Detroit Business reports that the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) asked Whitmer to declare all forms of construction nonessential, out of a concern for member safety and the shortage of N95 masks, which are commonly used in both construction and health care.

The governor’s stay-at-home order is currently in effect through April 13.


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