- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - A planned redevelopment project will celebrate an area that had once been a hub of black music and culture in Detroit.

More than $50 million is expected to be invested over the next three years in the Paradise Valley Cultural & Entertainment District.

Paradise Valley’s night clubs hosted jazz legends, and the district’s many black-owned businesses were the center of commerce for the African-American community until many of the shops and homes were demolished beginning in the 1950s in the name of economic development.

The city pushed ahead in recent years with plans to redevelop the area along the eastern edge of downtown.

“The key developers behind this project are longtime Detroiters,” Mayor Mike Duggan said during Wednesday’s announcement. “They know what this district was and they know what it can be. They’re committed to working with existing tenants and building a Paradise Valley that not only honors the heritage of our city, but ushers in our future.”

Five Detroit-based firms will update existing buildings in the area, creating dozens of jobs for city residents. The projects include a boutique hotel, a restaurant, jazz club, offices and luxury apartments.

The city’s Downtown Development Authority used tax dollars from Detroit’s three casinos in 2006 to buy five buildings and four surface lots with the intention of creating an entertainment district. At the time, only 20 percent of the buildings were occupied, the city said.

Detroit’s downtown continues to lead the city’s comeback efforts following its 2014 exit from bankruptcy as commercial and residential occupancy rates are on the rise.

“We have something special going on,” said Hiram Jackson, managing partner of Paradise Valley Real Estate Holdings II. “I do believe the energy is spreading from Midtown to downtown and the neighborhoods.”

The company plans to build a nearly 900,000-square-foot building, that includes 60 apartments, on three of the parking lots.

“It’s paramount that we visibly see the black investment taking place,” Ivy Simmons said of the groups involved in the Paradise Valley redevelopment. Simmons is executive vice president for the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce.

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