Case Studies

Malino Construction LLC

Rebuilding hope for old neighborhoods

Detroit-based construction firm Malino Construction LLC (Malino) was founded in 2001 by the wife and husband team of Kathy Makino-Leipsitz and Mark Leipsitz. For the past 13 years, Malino has been dedicated to serving the affordable housing market and contributing to the renewal of neighborhoods and historic buildings throughout the city.

Kathy has always had an affinity for real estate and bought her first apartment building in the city while she was studying at the University of Michigan in 1983. “Detroit offers people a tremendous opportunity to make an impact and create their own way,” explains Kathy. “It’s a positive that we have the ability to make a difference and people here really do have the desire to make things better.”

Historic development in Detroit has come at an opportune time for the company, as many of the city’s buildings are nationally recognized historic landmarks and are in need of rehabilitation. “These historic buildings are irreplaceable and we are in business to save them,” says Kathy.

Malino employs 16 people and utilizes a network of trusted subcontractors for specialty trades, which includes plumbing, electrical, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), as well as landscaping work, to serve its clients throughout southeastern Michigan and the Detroit metropolitan area. The company has brought business to local contractors, designers and suppliers, and its renewal projects utilize designers, planners and a host of other construction specialists.

Palmer Park rehabilitation

Over the past few years, Detroit has experienced economic growth and Malino is working to keep up with the demand of historic rehabilitations and affordable housing projects throughout the city. The company has many projects underway and has several on the books for the upcoming years.

Between 2007 and 2013, Malino purchased 16 historic buildings and several vacant lots in Detroit’s Palmer Park, a nationally recognized historic district; the company has been tirelessly dedicated to the rehabilitation since.

Malino has completed renovation of seven of the 14 buildings, which were built between 1920 and 1940, and plans to complete the remainder within in the next few years. “Once we finish, we will finally have renovated the whole neighborhood,” explains Kathy. “It’s a very exciting project, because it’s one of the only areas in the nation that have five decades of architecture in one historic district.”

In order to create a diverse and economically sound neighborhood in the Palmer Park area, the company staggered its housing costs to fit the budgets of various income levels. The units will be divided among the affordable housing, market-rate and senior housing markets.

“By inviting a blend of income levels into one neighborhood, we are able to better guarantee economic stability,” explains Kathy. “It takes a tremendous amount of work to coordinate the rehabilitations, but it’s worth it to see how much they improve our communities and the benefits they provide to the people who live here.”

Since purchasing the 16 historic buildings, the company has also taken on a new historic rehabilitation project in Palmer Park called Coronado Square. Malino plans to demolish and renovate the interior of the 45-unit building, while keeping the historical integrity of the exterior and common areas.

Malino Construction LLCCreating new communities

In addition to its ongoing work in Palmer Park, Malino has acquired seven properties along 6 Mile Road, which is located approximately 6 miles north of the Detroit River and the southern border of Palmer Park. The company plans to redevelop the commercial corridor for mixed-use.

“When the neighborhood is done we can build coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries,” explains Kathy. “The neighborhood will have its own commercial district, providing economic stability for the people who live there.”

Malino is also planning to begin work on River Plaza Square, a 119-unit complex on the Detroit River, where River Plaza will provide a mix of residential and commercial space. The company plans to create a boardwalk, allowing walking access to the river while strolling by restaurants and shops leading to a proposed urban beach.

“This area hasn’t seen new construction or redevelopment in over 50 years,” explains Kathy. “There is no commercial presence and the residential units are very old. The rehabilitation will create a destination and provide an access point to the river, completely changing the dynamic of the neighborhood and helping the local economy.”

The company is also pursuing a 179-unit historic rehabilitation project on Detroit’s riverfront, River Terrace, as well as preserving existing affordable housing development Westwill in the thriving Midtown area of Detroit. Once complete, Westwill will include both the rehabilitated existing historic building adjoining a new mixed-use, mid-rise with market-rate apartments, along with a two-story parking garage.

Malino’s unwavering dedication to preserving Detroit’s rich history and building a promising future for people who call it home has brought economic stability to neighborhoods throughout the city. By combining affordable and market-rate housing, along with commercial space, Kathy and Mark will continue to lead Detroit’s efforts to create a welcoming destination for residents and visitors alike. Malino Construction LLC is proud to be a part of the revitalization of Detroit.

Published on: May 7, 2015

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