Two weeks ago I decided to take my inaugural ride on the QLine, Detroit’s new light rail system. It was clean, not the fastest but it was convenient. I won’t debate the need or effectiveness of the QLine today. My trip began at Baltimore station and I headed south to Campus Martius to grab my lunch at one of the food trucks.
After about an hour of enjoying my food, basking in the sunlight and taking in the hustle and bustle around me it was time to head back up to TechTown. Walking along Woodward Ave. toward the QLine’s Campus Martius station I found myself engrossed in the sites and activities around me. In fact I was so lost in that moment I hadn’t realized I had already walked passed the station.
I made the decision to keep on walking to keep heading north to see what else is new and exciting along the way. It amazes me every time I drive around the city to see the amount that is changing. Again not going to debate the good or bad of any of it but just merely taking it all in and processing it all myself.
Downtown, I saw the new Shinola Hotel under construction, having required the demolition of a couple buildings but the adaptive reuse of a couple more. The architect in my likes this approach to development, remembering and preserving some of the past but not letting it impede progress. There are new Nike and Under Armour retail stores open. It’s hard to remember the last time major brands had a presence in the city. Further north Little Ceasers, locally founded and one of the largest pizza franchises in the United States, is building new corporate headquarters with an elevated walkway connecting to historic Fox Theatre.
Across I-75 Illitch Holdings and Olympia Entertainment are building the new $675 million Little Ceasers Arena where Red Wings and Pistons will play. The Pistons will be calling Detroit home again for the first time since they moved to the, soon to be demolished, Pontiac Silverdome in 1978. Across Temple the steel structure is in place for Wayne State’s new Mike Illitch School of Business. It’s amazing to see 2 projects of this scale in an area where only a couple years ago people were parking on dirt lots for Tiger’s games.
As yI continue further north through Cass Corridor, Midotwn as it has been rebranded, I see new residential everywhere. The residential development varies greatly, you’ll see the previously abandoned Strathmore. My sister had looked into moving into the building last year prior to its opening and it was already fully occupied, a testament to the residential demand and shortage in the Downtown/ Midtown core. The 12 stories of the former Hammer & Nail building are being renovated into 72 apartment units named The Plaza, expected to be complete by the end of 2017. Also too much fanfare was the opening of The Scott, a new apartment building opened in 2016 offering market rate apartments with an outdoor rooftop space and pool.
Potential or Coming Soon development signs occupy empty lots and building everywhere. My architects mind runs wild with the possibilities and potential of what may come.
The other thing you’ll notice along Woodward both Downtown and in Midtown is array of new restaurants that are available. It seems a new one opens monthly and is a must visit location. Many articles recently have praised Detroit’s food scene and called it a must visit for all the foodies out there.
As I begin to near the New Center area and return to TechTown I see Wayne State’s Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building. A $93 million state of the art modern facility that opened in 2015 and anchors the TechTown (south New Center) area. This is an area seeing a lot of growth. Recently announced for this area was the Ford-Detroit Pistons Performance Center, which will house corporate headquarters, a new practice facility, and a comprehensive sports medicine facility managed by the health system. This large scale developments are helping to spur additional development at Grand Blvd. with retail buildings under renovation and again new residential being built like Third & Grand. The project is located next to the Fisher building and will include 231apartments and 20,000 sf. of commercial space.
Finishing my walk I feel excited having seen so much activity and some much development. I can’t wait to see what is next.