Coworking building in Eastern Market gives creative renters space to spread out

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — After having to demolish a building they had planned to refurbish, a Grosse Pointe Farms couple is opening a newly built retail, workshop and coworking space in Eastern Market on Thursday that they hope will lure creative types.

The idea for Bea's, the new space at 1533 Winder, was sparked when Eli and Beatrice Wolnerman, co-founders of gifting business Open Me When, sought a place to which they could move their home business. They found the 4,000-square-foot building on Winder for lease, but offered to buy it instead. They paid $525,000 for the building in late 2018 and made plans to renovate it.

Beatrice and Eli Wolnerman put the finishing touches on Bea's, a retail, workshop and co-working space in Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan.

The couple learned that the structure was in such poor shape that it had to be demolished. Working within the same footprint, the couple built a light-filled, 7,500 square foot space with high ceilings and a full second floor.

“It’s even better,” Bea Wolnerman said, than the original building. “I feel the second story adds a lot to the building.”

Now they have a space for creative users to spread out, and they've already had interested callers.

“Any sort of small business that needed space to get out of their house and kind of spread out,” Bea Wolnerman said. 

A grand opening is planned for 3 - 8 p.m. Thursday.

A cafe and coffee bar on the first floor that will have shelving for anyone wanting to display their products created in the warehouse area.

The space will feature a cafe and workshop on the first floor, and traditional office space and a large patio for events on the second floor.

The demolished building dated to 1930 and once housed K. Shapiro Inc.,  which sold veal and lamb wholesale. The couple kept the east wall of the building and retained what they estimate to be a 1,000-pound metal door and old meat scale that will be displayed.

Businesses working in the warehouse can rent 50 square feet of space. Café visitors can view warehouse activity through large interior windows.

“(With) creative agencies, it always looks like there’s something really cool is happening, but you can never get to see what it actually is,” Eli Wolnermn said. “We wanted to make sure that that wasn’t the case here. We wanted people to be able to come and actually immerse themselves in what’s going on and see what’s great about the businesses and what’s so great about Detroit.”

Upstairs are traditional coworking spaces with private offices around the perimeter,and private offices and cubicles in the middle.

A cafe and coffee bar on the first floor that will have a window open to the warehouse area as well as shelving for anyone wanting to sell their products created in the warehouse area.

A main event space on the second floor opens onto a rooftop deck.

Beatrice Wolnerman said that they’ve gotten interest in businesses including those that do screen-printing and those who make candles. Bea’s will take applications on Thursday and offer a one-time discount for those who sign up for memberships that day.

Among business owners interested is Austin Holsinger, owner of Great Lakes Proud. His company, founded in Traverse City, makes vinyl stickers of the Great Lakes.

Holsinger said they’ll continue to make the stickers in Traverse City, but will move sales and marketing, and inventory from Troy to Eastern Market.

"We're hoping that moving into the city will help connect us more to the city," he said.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN