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Salon, eatery to anchor West Village retail strip

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Detroit — Pieces of a retail strip are falling into place in the city’s West Village neighborhood, and developers behind the $1.35 million renovation of what was a burned-out building on Kercheval say they expect the pace to pick up.

“This strip cannot be redone without this building,” said Reimer Priester, one of the development partners on The Garland Building project at 8044 Kercheval Ave. “It’s in the middle of the most important block on Kercheval.”

The nine-month project repurposed two blighted buildings into a mixed-use structure. On the ground floor there will be a salon and a restaurant, Priester said. Upstairs, three 1,200-square-foot apartments will rent for around $1,850 a month. The building sits around the corner from Sister Pie bakery and a strip of smaller still-vacant storefronts.

Priester and his partners have their hands on four other buildings within a few blocks of the Garland. He said they expect to start work on some of those buildings soon.

He and partner Alex DeCamp have worked on buildings throughout the city, including a few in Midtown, but the West Village projects are different. DeCamp lives in the neighborhood, and the redevelopment and investment seen in Midtown and downtown is just now hitting the villages.

That’s not to say that something like a hair salon is going to bring back a neighborhood, or that West Village needed much saving, the developers said. But adding retail to a walkable, high-density neighborhood helps spruce things up.

And the Garland Building project was backed by a $1 million loan from JPMorgan Chase and a separate loan from Capital Impact Partners.

“Detroit’s comeback will be sustainable if we continue to work together and help those who live and work in neighborhoods like West Village,” Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a news release. “This collaborative spirit is creating economic opportunity in Detroit’s neighborhoods and encouraging others to invest. This approach is a tribute to the Mayor’s leadership and community leaders who will make projects like the Garland Building a success.”

The project also feeds into Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s idea of 20-minute neighborhoods, an idea that targets neighborhoods around the city where residents should have access to all their needs within a 20-minute walk or bike ride. There are a few different projects blossoming around West Village, including a mixed-use development at the corner of Van Dyke and Coe not far from the Garland Building.

That building is being financed by a recently announced Strategic Neighborhood Fund grant program through the city.

Speaking Thursday inside the Garland Building, Duggan applauded the development team.

“The idea that people are coming into this neighborhood to shop is a relatively new development,” Duggan said.

The development also supports small businesses, which Duggan said are crucial to neighborhood stabilization and growth.

Greg Reyner, who owns Cafe Muse in Royal Oak, will open his Geiger Eat Shop in part of the Garland’s retail space next summer. Priester said the restaurant will be a neighborhood spot, but he also expects it to draw more people to West Village.

“What I love so much about the Kercheval location is that it was once a busy commercial district, and the rebirth of this area has helped the Indian and West Village communities to prosper,” Rayner said.

The loan from JPMorgan Chase is part of its $100 million commitment to the city. JPMorgan Chase also is supporting part of the $30 million Strategic Neighborhood Fund.

Duggan said Thursday that the company’s commitment is clearly being used in aspects of Detroit well outside the downtown skyscrapers.

The mayor and Dimon on Thursday also planned to celebrate the city’s “relighting,” as work wraps on the over $160 million project getting the entire city’s streetlights turned back on.

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Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau