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Boston-Edison FAQ

Whether you're a visitor or a resident, you might have questions about our neighborhood. Here are some of the questions we've frequently been asked before:

Are there homes for sale in Boston-Edison?

Yes! Boston-Edison is a large historic district with over 900 homes; many homes will be on the market at any given time, ranging from spacious mansions to more moderately-sized homes. Some are in move-in condition, some need a little TLC, and some need major renovation. For a list of most homes currently for sale in the district, check out our Homes For Sale section.

Why should I consider moving to Boston-Edison?

Three reasons: great houses, great location, and great people. Boston-Edison is a diverse, multi-cultural community, with people of all races, ages, and professions. It is located in the heart of Detroit, with easy access to the city and the entire metropolitan area. The homes in the district are unique, historically significant, and hand-constructed from natural materials. Read more about living in Boston-Edison.

Does B-E offer the same things I like about my loft?

Loft dwellers experience the convenience and the adventure of living in the city, the quality brick construction of old buildings, and the sense of living in an historic place. But space is limited, both inside and out, and lofts don't have that neighborhood feel. With a house in Boston-Edison, you can keep the convenience and adventure, plus gain an even greater sense of living in a high quality historic home. Read more about the comparison between Boston-Edison and loft living.

Are there tax incentives for moving into Boston-Edison?

Boston-Edison is designated as a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone. Under the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone plan, residents who have moved into the Boston-Edison Historic District since December 31, 1997, may be eligible for a Homestead Exemption which will reduce property taxes up to 35%. To obtain the credit, residents must apply for the exemption, and they are required to sign an affidavit stating they plan to make a minimum investment of $500 in the property after the date of issue.

Aren't property taxes high?

Taxes in Detroit are ordinarily about 68 mills, based on the taxable value (typically half the market value, as explained here). For new residents, the rate can be reduced through the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone initiative. In addition, the trade-off for higher taxes is that, in Boston-Edison, the taxable values of homes are far lower than for smaller homes outside Detroit. If you're thinking about moving, check the actual taxable value and mortgage payments, and compare to smaller, more expensive homes elsewhere.

Isn't insurance expensive?

Insurance prices in Detroit for both home and auto can be high. They can also be highly variable, with quotes from one company being two, three, or sometimes even five times higher for the same coverage. If you're in the market for both homeowners and auto insurance, some companies will offer a discount if you bundle them together. For homeowners insurance, be sure to consider raising your deductible or reducing your insured value to the actual market value of your home. For other ideas, read Twelve Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs and Nine Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs, courtesy of the Insurance Institute. If you're an HBEA member, see recommendations for agents from neighbors.

Are there homes available for rent in Boston-Edison?

If you're not ready to buy, there are occasionally homes to rent in Boston-Edison. However, HBEA does not keep track of these homes. If you're considering renting, remember that Boston-Edison's R-1 zoning prevents "rooming-house" style rental arrangements. In addition, homes for rent must be licensed and inspected by the city, so ask your prospective landlord to show you the certificate of occupancy for the home.

Can I open a bed-and-breakfast in Boston-Edison?

Boston-Edison is zoned only for single-family residences (R-1). This means that no owner can operate a business within the neighborhood, beyond a small scale home office. This protects every owner from having a neighbor use a home as a nursing home, rooming house, church, insurance agency, beauty parlor, bed and breakfast, or any like activity.

Doesn't it cost a fortune to heat those houses?

Utility costs, especially heating bills, naturally are higher for the large homes in Boston-Edison than for smaller homes. The trade-off for higher utility costs is that, in Boston-Edison, the market values of large houses are lower than the prices of smaller homes outside Detroit. Buyers who are careful about this trade-off can offset higher utility bills by lower mortgage payments in Boston-Edison, and thereby have the same (or lower) total cost as for a smaller, more expensive home elsewhere. In addition, homeowners can install items such as interior storm windows, additional attic insulation, and more efficient heating systems to conserve energy and reduce heating costs.

Are there good schools near Boston-Edison?

The involved parent living in Boston-Edison has many choices of schools for their children. The Skillman Foundation, a private organization whose aim is to develop good schools in Detroit, has identified good schools, both public and private, all over Detroit. Many of these schools are within easy reach of the Boston-Edison neighborhood. Find out more about these schools.

Are shopping and restaurants nearby?

Boston-Edison is one mile north of the New Center and its retail area, and two miles north of Wayne State University and Midtown Detroit with a collection of shopping and eating. In addition, downtown Hamtramck (and its shopping district) is only a mile east of Boston-Edison. If you're in the car anyway, downtown Detroit, southwest Detroit, and the near northern suburbs all all less than 10 minutes away.

How about cultural amenities?

Boston-Edison is only a mile from the New Center, with the Fisher Building and the Fisher Theater, the State of Michigan Cadillac Center in the former General Motors building, and the Motown Museum. Two miles away, near Wayne State University, are the Detroit Institute of ArtsDetroit Historical MuseumDetroit Public LibraryMuseum of African-American History, and the Science Center. For more convenient amenities, see "Living in Boston-Edison"

How about hospitals?

One of the best hospitals in the country, Henry Ford Hospital, is located a mile south of Boston-Edison on Grand Boulevard. In addition, other excellent hospitals, such as St. John HospitalBeaumont Hospital, and the Detroit Medical Center's Harper University Hospital and Hutzel Women's Hospital are nearby.

What restrictions are there on home renovations?

Boston-Edison is a Local, State and Federally designated Historic District. As a result, exterior changes to the houses cannot be made without the prior approval of the Detroit Historic District Commission. (The Commission does not regulate changes to the interior of a house, unless the interior change affects the exterior experience.) These restrictions are designed to preserve the historic nature of our neighborhood. The HDC does not just enforce the restrictions, the staff members also are very willing to advise owners about what is historically correct and to help them plan exterior work. Usually, it is just as easy and no more expensive to do something the approved way as the wrong way.

Where can I recycle?

The city of Detroit offers curbside recycling, with pickup every two weeks. There is also a convenient local location in the New Center, Recycle Here!, that accepts recyclable materials. Read more about recycling here.

When does trash get picked up?

The city of Detroit collects refuse from city-provided trash containers weekly on Wednesdays throughout the neighborhood. Bulk trash is picked up every other week, and yard waste on the same dates from spring through fall. This page has more information on trash and pickup dates.

What's the advantage of living in a historic district?

The biggest benefit of locally designated Historic Districts is that property values in the district are increased. In fact, research shows that the additional value added by a historic district designation is typically 10 percent to almost 30 percent. See this article on Historic District property value for more detail, and see our introduction to historic districts in Detroit for a wider overview.

Where is Boston-Edison?

The Boston-Edison Historic District is located in the very heart of Detroit, on the west side of Woodward Avenue. The neighborhood is four miles north of downtown Detroit and just a mile north of the New Center. This map shows the location of the neighborhood.

How big is the district?

The Boston-Edison Historic District is a thirty-six-block area of homes on four streets: West Boston Boulevard, Chicago Boulevard, Longfellow Avenue, and Edison Avenue, spanning from Woodward west to Linwood. Boston-Edison is the largest residential historical district in the United States. This map shows the size of the neighborhood.

How convenient is freeway access?

Convenience to freeways is a major advantage to Boston-Edison. The Lodge freeway (US 10) runs through Boston-Edison, with access on and off the freeway at Chicago Boulevard in the heart of the neighborhood. In addition, the neighborhood is a mile from I-75, and a little over a mile from both I-94 and I-96. We are 20 minutes or less from all other major Detroit-area freeways. This map shows the freeways surrounding the neighborhood.

What's interesting to see in Boston-Edison?

The Boston-Edison District is significant as a single family, residential area of quality and substantial architecture. The majority of these homes were built between the years 1905 and 1925 and remain unchanged today. Many prominent and wealthy Detroiters constructed homes in this district during that period. If you're new to the neighborhood, the best way to see it is through the self-guided walking and driving tours put together by Historic Boston-Edison Association's archivist, Jerald A. Mitchell.

What is the Historic Boston-Edison Association?

The Historic Boston-Edison Association (HBEA) is the oldest continuous neighborhood association in the city, founded in 1921. HBEA sponsors numerous activities for residents, from the annual Holiday Home Tour to seminars and workshops, as well as social events. HBEA also acts as a voice for the residents of the Boston-Edison Historic District, maintaining its viability as a neighborhood and its architectural distinctiveness. The Association vigorously enforces the local Historic District Ordinance, monitors the issuance of building permits and, as a last resort, takes violators to court. Read more about HBEA.

How do I get involved in HBEA?

Easy! Join the Historic Boston-Edison Association; dues are $60.00 per year and can be paid online. If you're already a member, contact the Historic Boston-Edison Association by email, phone, or USPS. Volunteers are always welcome on HBEA committees.

What do my dues do?

Like any association, just to exist we have overhead costs for phones, P.O. boxes, postage, office supplies, copying, storage of supplies, our newsletter, legal expenses, regular meetings, and so on. Memberships pay for our existence. The Historic Boston-Edison Association also sponsors many neighborhood functions and pays for a number of services to help the community. We continue to work at beautifying and protecting the neighborhood.  Whatever improves Boston-Edison enhances your property values and your life.

Is the Historic Boston-Edison Association an HOA?

The Historic Boston-Edison Association is not an HOA. It is a neighborhood advocacy group; membership and dues payments are voluntary. The Association does not set or enforce regulations. However, the Boston-Edison neighborhood is a city of Detroit designated historic district, and the Detroit Historic District Commission does require pre-approval for any renovations in the neighborhood. See the Commission's website or HBEA's page for more information.

Does the Association need to approve home renovations?

No, the Historic Boston-Edison Association does not set or enforce regulations on home renovations. However, the Boston-Edison neighborhood is a city of Detroit designated historic district, and the Detroit Historic District Commission does need to approve any external renovations in the neighborhood. See the Commission's website or HBEA's page for more information.

Does the Association have an approved list of contractors?

Neither the Association nor the Detroit Historic District Commission approves contractors. Residents can use any contractor (or DIY), so long as they obtain approval from the  the Detroit Historic District Commission for any external renovations. However, as a convenience, the Association does provide a list of contractors recommended by residents who have attended our latest Home Preservation Fair.

Why is the area historic?

The Boston-Edison District is significant as a single family, residential area of quality and substantial architecture. The majority of these homes were built between the years 1905 and 1925 and remain unchanged today. Many prominent and wealthy Detroiters constructed homes in this district during that period. The District received historic designation from the Federal, State and City governments in 1974. Read much more on Boston-Edison's history.

Who are some historic residents of Boston-Edison?

Early residents of Boston-Edison included SS Kresge, founder of the SS Kresge Company; Clarence Burton, a founder of the Detroit Historical Society and donor of the Burton Historical Collection to the Detroit Public Library; Rabbi Leo Franklin, organizer of the United Jewish Charities, editor of the Jewish American and long time rabbi at Temple Beth El; Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company; James Couzens, secretary-treasurer of the Ford Motor Company, first nonpartisan mayor of Detroit and later US Senator from Michigan; and William Strickland, vice president of General Motors and chief engineer of the Cadillac division. Read much more on Boston-Edison's residents.

What architectural styles are represented?

While the basic architectural style is a somewhat eclectic colonial, there are certain common design elements that unite the neighborhood. Houses are placed on wide, tree-lined streets, and feature common roof-lines, scale and set backs from the street.

The different architecture styles and sizes in the neighborhood can be categorized into four groups: (a) palatial homes with two to three story homes of stone, brick or stucco; (b) brick homes, smaller than the first group and designed in the Georgian Revival or colonial style; (c) an English style featuring two or three story homes with massive gables that rise above the roof, and (d) large, early twentieth century vernacular residences.

Who can I contact for more information?

Do you have questions or comments about the Boston-Edison Historic District? Contact the Historic Boston-Edison Association by email, phone, or USPS, and let us know.

I have some historical information on Boston-Edison. Are you interested?

Of course! Plenty of people living in the neighborhood are excited about our historic homes and the people that once lived in them. Drop us a line and we'll pass the information on to Boston-Edison's official historian.

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