With construction nearing completion at Midtown's most buzzed-about new rental property, the Auburn, 7 out of 8 retail spaces are occupied as the developers prepare to start renting apartments.
Located at the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street near Wayne State University, the $12 million mixed-use development was developed by the Roxbury Group with partners Invest Detroit and Midtown Detroit, Inc. On the second and third floors, 58 rental units priced from $780 to $995 a month will be available and shown off to potential tenants and the curious during open house events Friday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The spaces, all one-bedroom apartments and studios, are likely to go fast.
"There's a shortage of quality housing here in Midtown," said Sue Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit, Inc. "We could fill three or four buildings like this."
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Roxbury Group Vice President of Development James Van Dyke said they looked to other urban developments in New York and Chicago for inspiration and included common gathering areas, with two decks on the second floor, one that opens into a year-round interior space that can be used for hosting events and screenings. As well, the small units are closer to New York standards with an average of 615 square feet, but Van Dyke said that hasn't deterred possible renters.
But those who aren't moving into the Auburn will also have something to look forward to. Its first floor offers 9,000 square feet of independent retail space.
A mix of food and retail, the businesses are intentionally a varied group. Van Dyke said they were looking for retailers with interesting concepts and the expertise to carry out their vision, which is why many of the owners will sound familiar.
The Auburn will be home to Go Cycle Studio's second location. The exercise studio for spinning classes first opened in Royal Oak several years ago.
Source Booksellers, who have been open on Cass in view of the Auburn for 10 years, are moving into the new building for the larger space and chance to expand their carefully curated selection of nonfiction books.
In August, The Huffington Post reported that Russell Street Deli will launch Topsoil, a carry-out and quick-dining food counter serving vegetarian and vegan meals in the building. A Thai restaurant will be its neighbor, also with a quick-dining concept, from the owners of Sy Thai in Birmingham.
Hatch Detroit 2011 winner Joe Posch will open Hugh, a store specializing in men's design and furnishings. Next door will be another design store, Nora.
The Auburn's management company Center City Properties will fill one of the retail spaces, and the final shop has not been announced, though it is likely to be a coffee shop.
The spaces were designed at a size and price point, about $800 a month, so a small neighborhood business or entrepreneur could launch a business. Van Dyke said they turned down rental offers from several larger companies or chains.
But business longevity is an important concern in the Cass Corridor. While excitement swells about a growing retail corridor in MIdtown, where Auburn residents will be just a short walk from bars, bakeries, boutiques and more, those emotions haven't stopped other nearby businesses from closing, like the short-lived Chou Anime Cafe, Leopold's Books and Thistle in the last several months. Van Dyke said most of the retailers behind the Auburn shops have leased their spaces for three years.
Below, take a sneak peek at the Auburn building's outdoor decks, apartments and retail owners:
James Van Dyke, vice president of development for the Roxbury Group, and Sue Mosey, president of Midtown, Inc., announced the seven confirmed retailers at new mixed-use building the Auburn in Detroit on Weds., Oct. 3. The $12 million development at Cass Avenue and Canfield Street also holds 58 apartments on the second and third floors that have a scheduled move-in date of Nov. 1/
Source Booksellers has sold its carefully curated selection of nonfiction books at a space in sight of the Auburn on Canfield Street for 10 years, but owner Janet Jones spent 13 years as a book vendor around town before that. Pictured on one of the Auburn's decks with daughter Alyson Jones (who Janet calls "the brains" behind their business), the new location in the Auburn will allow the Jones' to expand their selection. They also plan to host more events. Though more and more chains and big box bookstores are closing, Jones said there's been a rise of small and independent booksellers. "And that's me," she said.
Go City Cycle co-owners Jimmy Wilde and Lisa VanOverbeke, pictured on the Auburn's front porch, opened their spinning and fitness studio of the same name three years ago in Royal Oak. They're looking forward to being a part of Detroit's "movement" -- both its revitalization and getting Midtown's residents moving on stationary bikes.
The retail spaces are still being completed, though businesses are expected to open by the end of the year. This is the future home of Hugh, a design and home goods store for men owned by Joe Posch. The store on Cass Avenue will be next to vegetarian cafe Top Soil on one side and Nora, a new lifestyle store, on the other.
A look inside a one-bedroom model unit on the second floor of the Auburn building in Detroit.
In a second floor apartment of the Auburn building, James Van Dyke showed off the large windows with sliding glass doors behind him. There is no actual balcony, but crafted barriers from a southwest Detroit metalworker that Van Dyke said would make residents feel connected to the street level happenings.
A corner unit on the third floor of the Auburn has nice views to the north.
The third floor apartments have bamboo flooring, while the second floor has sealed concrete for a grittier look.
A bedroom in the model unit.
The kitchen has an island that might double as a resident's table in the small apartment. James Van Dyke said they purposely built smaller apartments after examining the need in the Midtown area.
The Auburn's exterior on Cass Avenue, with one of the two decks on the left.
The Auburn's smaller porch on the building's face along Cass Avenue. Both of the decks will be furnished.
Ashley C. Woods contributed to this report.