More retail, housing planned for Corktown next to the former Tiger Stadium site
Metro Detroit businessman Anthony Soave plans to build a blocks-long retail and residential development near the old Tiger Stadium site.
The broad outline of the potential development, which is a work in progress, was confirmed by a spokeswoman for Soave. Others familiar with the plans said it’s expected to include hundreds of residential units and additional retail. It could include the conversion of the Checker Cab building at 2128 Trumbull into residential lofts, according to several people who have seen preliminary designs. A separate multistory residential building could be constructed behind the cab building.
The plan is expected to be formally announced early next year, possibly in January.
“The timing is a little premature” to discuss the project, Soave’s spokeswoman, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, said Thursday. She emailed a one sentence response when asked about the potential development. “Mr. Soave is looking forward to strengthening and enhancing his investment in the city of Detroit and helping contribute to what is already a booming Corktown success story.”
The plans have Corktown businesses and residents buzzing.
Many expect it to mark the next phase of new housing developments that will sustain the red-hot growth of Corktown’s Michigan Avenue, which has evolved into a dense, popular strip of restaurants, bars and shops west of downtown.
The proposed Soave development would be adjacent to a separate project on the former Tiger Stadium site. Part of that development includes creating 102 apartments, 24 townhouses and retail. Construction of that project is expected to begin early next year.
“It’s going to be a boon — that’s what people are expecting,” of Soave’s plans, said P. J. Ryder, the owner of nearby PJ’s Lager House.
Soave’s Trident-Checker LLC owns the huge Checker Cab building on Trumbull, two blocks north of Michigan Avenue. Behind the cab building, heading east toward downtown, Trident-Checker owns a big slice of the next block bordered by Eighth, Plum, West Elizabeth and Brooklyn. Soave also owns a few other properties on Trumbull and Elizabeth that border his bigger swath of land. In total, 17 properties are in his control and much of the land is empty. It’s enough to build something substantial.
Soave is teaming up with The Roxbury Group, the Detroit development and consulting firm that’s behind some of the city’s most high-profile renovations of historic buildings and new developments in recent years. The Roxbury Group had no comment for this story. Its projects include downtown’s David Whitney Building, which was empty for years and is now an Aloft Hotel and luxury apartment rentals. Another project is the new State of Michigan’s Outdoor Adventure Center, the east riverfront facility built in a former ship-building plant. One of its latest projects is The Griswold, upscale apartments to be built atop the Michigan Avenue parking garage next to the downtown Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and Residences.
Soave, the son of an Eastern Market grocer, passed on college and started as a construction contractor with a used truck. He eventually founded a waste-hauling firm that he sold for $750 million in 1998.
Detroit-based Soave Enterprises LLC generates $2.6 billion in revenue annually in a dizzying array of holdings that include auto dealerships, beverage distribution, luxury transportation service and hydroponic tomatoes. He profited from the demolition of Tiger Stadium. His Ferrous Processing & Trading Co. recycled the aluminum, copper and other metals from the former home of the Detroit Tigers, who moved to Comerica Park downtown.
He lives in a sprawling lakefront mansion in Grosse Pointe Farms, decorated with fine European art and antiques. He’s politically connected, and has donated millions to philanthropic causes.
Soave was a key witness in the federal trial of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted for running City Hall like a criminal enterprise, in the words of federal prosecutors. Soave testified he was strong-armed by the then-mayor to hire Kilpatricks’ buddy Bobby Ferguson, now imprisoned, as a contractor in order to get a lucrative sewer-lining contract with the city.
Soave also lavished Kilpatrick with gifts, such as 20 free round-trips on his private jet, a shopping spree in New York City and a pair of NBA finals tickets, which cost about $10,000.
Soave also invests in luxury real estate. Soave Real Estate Group is behind three waterfront condominium developments in Florida, a major condo development in Phoenix’s art district and a 2,000-acre planned community in Loudoun County, Virginia, near Washington.
The Corktown project would be his first residential development in Detroit.
“If you look at his track record, clearly he only makes big plans,” said Tim Springstead, one of the owners of Nemo’s, a longtime sports bar on Michigan Avenue in Corktown. “That’s why many people are excited about whatever he’s going to do, because he’s been here in Corktown a long time.
“He knows a great opportunity.”