New apartments planned in space of failed Birmingham condominium project


A failed condominium development in Birmingham city center is now set to be turned into one bedroom apartments on South Old Woodward Avenue.

Developer Joe Barbat paid $6.75 million for the eight unfinished units of The Forefront development at 400 S. Old Woodward Ave. late last month, according to CoStar Group Inc., a Washington, DC-based real estate information service.

Barbat said Thursday afternoon that he plans to convert the unfinished space into 30 apartments by the time it opens next year. He declined to reveal the development cost. His company, West Bloomfield Township-based Barbat Holdings LLC, would establish its new headquarters in the building’s commercial space, which is also occupied by MA Engineering, Barbat said.

Wyandotte-based Thomas Roberts Architects is working on the redevelopment.

Barbat is the owner of Houze Living LLC, which has residential redevelopment and development projects in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

The Forefront was developed by Joey Jonna of Jonna Luxury Homes. Jonna did not return a text message requesting comment.

He reportedly owed $2.4 million on a $7.3 million construction loan he defaulted on, plus an additional $80,000 in property taxes, the Detroit Free Press reported in May.

The project had been looking for a buyer for almost a year.

According to marketing materials from Farmington Hills-based Mr. Shapiro Real Estate Group, the court-appointed receiver, there were eight partially constructed condos for sale in the building. Units are on the second floor (five units) and third floor (three units) with a total area of ​​27,363 square feet (3,420 square feet on average).

Mr. Shapiro Real Estate and Bailey Schmidt & Associates worked on the sale, according to CoStar.

Two of the 10 condominiums in the development sold, and the commercial space is occupied.

When announced in June 2014, the project was expected to cost $20 million and dominate Birmingham’s downtown residential market with sales prices of $1,000 per square foot or more.

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