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Detroit — The last dead building along the downtown Woodward shopping corridor will see new life with retail and residential or office space, Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert's real estate firm Bedrock LLC told The Detroit News on Thursday.

Over the past several years, most of the properties along Woodward south of Grand Circus Park have seen major investment. The Fowler building at 1225 Woodward, however, has sat vacant, as the 1911-built structure waited for a major cash infusion.

"Between all of the buildings that already have been renovated and the ones that are being renovated and the new developments that are going on right now," said Jim Ketai, Bedrock chairman and co-founder, "I think that it's the start of another shopping district that once was."

Work on the eight-story, 48,000-square-foot building began immediately following Bedrock's April 2 acquisition. The company expects updates to the building's infrastructure and electrical to be completed in the next six to eight months with a retailer possibly moving into the 6,000-square-foot first floor within a year, Ketai said. Both national and local retailers are options, he said.

The building qualifies for federal historic tax credits, Ketai said.

Sequoia Property Partners, a New York investment firm, purchased the property in 2012 for $700,000, according to public records. It went up for sale in November for $22 million. Ketai declined to comment on the deal.

Bedrock had reached out to the company in hopes it would make efforts to revitalize the building and secure tenants, Ketai said.

"I feel like I've been staring at that, and it just draws my attention for all these years, watching everything else be turned around and look so good," he said. "It does change the perception of the whole block."

In 2017, ahead of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Bedrock received permission from the owner to paint the building and clean the windows.

"Now it'll look really good once we finish it," Ketai said.

He likened the project's costs to Bedrock's work done at the adjacent Kresge and Traver buildings. The Kresge building at 1201 Woodward now houses athletic wear retailer Under Armour.

Bedrock also has opened the Shinola Hotel down the street and brought in retailers to fill the block. Across the street from the Fowler building, a new $1 billion development on the former Hudson's store site is rising up to 912 feet tall.

Detroit architects Donaldson & Meier designed the once so-called eight-story "skyscraper" that cost $150,000 (nearly $4 million today) to construct, according to city documents. It housed Kline's Ladies Wear until 1958, and a couple of other retailers followed through the mid-1980s.

"It's been bothering us since the time it was purchased," he said. "All these years went by, and it just sat there. It's part of keeping the momentum going."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

 

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