Downtown Detroit apartment vacancies up, rents down overall since pandemic

The country’s inner cities have lost some of their shine due to the pandemic.

Closed concert halls, arenas, and limited restaurants made for fairly quiet city centers early on, and in some cases with people working from home, dragging them away from downtown was enough.

Current data from the Downtown Detroit Partnership shows that downtown Motor City is not immune.

The data comes from 4,487 units and shows that the city’s average vacancy rate in the final quarter of 2020 was 16%, roughly double that of the first quarter of 2020. The data collected does not include any subsidized units.

While the numbers show that people aren’t filling downtown Detroit apartments like they did before the pandemic, there is an advantage for prospective tenants: attractive move-in offers and, in many cases, cheaper rents.

“I was exactly at this place almost a year earlier,” said Mark Ruhle to 7 Action News.

Originally from Royal Oak, Ruhle moved from Southfield to downtown Detroit last week.

When he first saw the spot – a one-bedroom apartment in the Broderick Tower Apartments on Witherell Street – it was more than he wanted to pay for.

Fast forward 12 months, and Ruhle was considering moving. In part, he said because he wanted to be downtown, confident in the city and state’s recovery from the pandemic.

“They said, hey, we’re cutting the rental prices, if you want to move here now the prices are a lot cheaper.”

Around $ 300 cheaper, according to Ruhle.

Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, which tracks downtown rental rates and occupancy, among other things, said it was a rent they had noticed since the pandemic.

“A reduction in occupancy by up to 10 percent. Depending on the project, rents are between four and ten percent, “Larson told Action News.

He is also the CEO of Larson Realty, which is located behind The Corner in Corktown, a 111-unit building that is also feeling the effects of higher vacancies.

“We’ve also expanded all kinds of different programs, whether it’s free monthly rentals, discounted rentals, or all kinds of referral programs,” he said, nothing Larson Realty has done to keep renters interested.

He is not lonely. Bedrock Detroit properties like The Stott on Griswold and The Assembly on West Fort offer 1 month of free rent and $ 1,000 move-in fees.

While people like Ruhle are being drawn to the city center due to attractive move-in offers or lower rents, Liz Taylor has moved out of town this year.

Last month she left The Albert after seven years in Capitol Park; From 2014 she was one of the original tenants.

Her downtown job no longer required her to come to the office.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working from home and paying a lot for rent in a small space,” she said. Taylor now lives in a house in West Bloomfield.

The total rent in the city center has also decreased slightly. According to the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the average rent was $ 1,518 in the final quarter of 2020, down from $ 1,579 in the first quarter.

“I really think the fundamentals are still very strong for Detroit,” said Larson.

Many projects are still running.

“The things construction continues on are projects that were already in full swing and have already been funded,” he said. “I think last year was a bit of a break because we weren’t able to use all of the activities resources and opportunities that the city center has to offer.

Larson said he was confident of getting back on his feet, but said it could be a few years before downtown is back to where it was before the pandemic.

Ruhle told Action News he was glad he moved when he did.

“It only made sense for me to move here before everything had recovered, including rental rates,” he said.

Additional coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

You can find full coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we help people financially affected by the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything that is available to help you with this crisis and how to access it.

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