Long-vacant downtown Detroit building gets new owner; cafe planned

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — After sitting vacant for more than 20 years, 511 Woodward Avenue has a new owner. 

Birmingham-based Elia Group has closed on a $4.65 million purchase from the Wayne County Land Bank. 

The first tenant will be Capital One Financial Corp. with plans to open a Capital One Café in the third quarter of 2020, officials announced Thursday.

The total redevelopment costs for the 29,968 square-foot building are estimated at $18 million, according to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

“We are extremely excited to bring this project from concept to reality,” said Zaid Elia, founder of Elia Group, in a statement.

“The property has been sitting vacant for well over 20 years, and through a concerted, forward-thinking effort with our team, Wayne County, the city of Detroit and many others, the iconic 511 Woodward building will once again be a vibrant part of the city’s landscape, growing workforce and visitors.”

The total redevelopment costs for the 29,968 square-foot building are estimated at $18 million, according to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. 

The real estate deal has been at least one year in the making with the Elia Group reaching a tentative agreement in November 2018 to purchase the building from Wayne County pending approval from the Wayne County Commission. The building sits next to the Guardian Building. 

“This is another key piece of property identified in our recovery plan that we are putting back into productive use after it sat idle for years,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said. “There has been tremendous interest in the building and in Wayne County, and this deal reflects that.”

Elia Group is seeking $1.56 million in brownfield tax incentives from the city of Detroit for activities including lead and asbestos abatement, according to the DEGC. The Detroit City Council could vote on the request as early as Tuesday after its planning and economic development committee on Thursday moved it for a vote with a recommendation to approve. 

About 19,000 square feet of the building will be used as office space while the remaining 11,000-square-feet will be used for retail, according to city officials. 

The two-story Capital One Café will be more than 7,000 square feet and feature a full-service Peet’s Coffee bar and baked goods from local Detroit bakeries. The cafe will also have bank functions providing customers the ability to open accounts and access ATMs. 

The café will have free community room space for registered nonprofit, student and alumni student groups and semi-private spaces and nooks available on a first-come, first-served basis to make phone calls or have meetings. 


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN