A health food kitchen, a casual boutique and other shops are filling in spaces along Woodward Avenue in New Center as Midtown Detroit Inc. continues to renovate, sell and build its presence in the Detroit neighborhood.
Progress on the nonprofit economic development group’s $7.5 million Woodward Grand redevelopment at the southeast corner of Woodward and West Grand Boulevard has moved along since it was announced in January 2017.
But more is in store for that wide, half-empty block just east of the Fisher Building on Woodward between West Grand Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue.
Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit, declined to comment on renovation of the several aging structures it owns across the street from the Woodward Grand — most as part of an 11-building purchase in mid-2015. She said the nonprofit would wait until it makes an official announcement in the first quarter of 2018 to comment on its “investment there.”
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But the owners of small businesses Ferne Boutique and Cooking with Que spoke about their plans to lease soon-to-be-renovated Midtown Detroit-owned spaces on that side of the block.
Ferne Boutique, a casual women’s clothing store in Bay City, is opening a second location around May at 6529 Woodward Ave., owner Laura Horwath said. And Que Broden, who runs a small health-food education and media business under the name Cooking with Que, will be Horwath’s neighbor at 6529 Woodward Ave. — they’re splitting the building.
Horwath said Midtown Detroit has aimed to create a balance as it chooses businesses to fill the section of Woodward at the end of the QLine streetcar route.
“I personally wasn’t fully aware of New Center,” Horwath said. “Midtown (Detroit) just really kind of helped to match up the businesses in that area, and with Wilda’s(cafe) going in across the street, and they just finished those … apartments above (in the Woodward Grand building), they’ve done a really nice job of picking and matching us up, so that we’re not just one business on a block, they’ve got the whole thing curated together.”
Ferne Boutique worked with the organization to select a location. Horwath said she plans to spend $40,000 finishing the interior of the 1,400-square-foot space and will hire abut two part-time employees to start.
Brigid Beaubien, who co-owns 8 Degrees Plato, said in October that she plans to open a home décor store called Urbānum on the same block in a Midtown Detroit space at 6545 Woodward Ave. The North End Collective, a gathering of retail shops for entrepreneurs, opened last winter near the south end of the block at 6513 Woodward Ave.
Midtown Detroit sold the former Payless Shoe Source building between the collective and Urbanum’s space to the team behind small-plate restaurant Selden Standard, Andy Hollyday and Evan Hansen. The sale was finalized around the end of November or early December, Hansen said in an email.
The pair plans to open a Mediterranean restaurant in the 6535 Woodward Ave. space. Hollyday and Hansen don’t yet have a name or an opening date to announce, Hansen said, but he estimated that renovations will wrap up around early 2019.
The Midtown Detroit-backed retail cluster with Ferne Boutique and Cooking with Que sits just south of property at the southwest corner of Woodward and West Grand Boulevard sold by Midtown Detroit to David Grasso, CEO of Grasso Holdings LLC, Crain’s reported. Grasso told Crain’s in June that he may build a 35-story mixed-use development with residential, retail and office space there.
Cooking with Que
With Que Broden’s cooking demonstrations, healthful eating courses and blog, she aims to be a one-stop informational shop for vegans, as well as meat eaters looking to add more plants to their diets.
But this new step, investing in a physical location, means “people can actually come in and be taught how to eat to live,” she said.
The 1,400-square-foot shop on Woodward in New Center will have a 16-seat demonstration kitchen in the front, along with a small retail section. Classes will start at $69 per person, she said. The back will offer a shareable kitchen space for rent.
Broden said she expects to invest $250,000-$300,000 to build out the space. Funding includes $2,500 from the Michigan Women’s Foundation and $100,000 through the Detroit Development Fund. She plans to add about six employees to the current team of five, which includes her.
Broden expects to open the shop for cooking courses in April, after Midtown Detroit delivers the renovated space around January.
“People can do what you do if you teach them how to do it,” she said. “I would love the city to be known as a healthy place, teaching people how to eat better.”