Historical Stone Soap Building In Detroit To Receive $27 Million Renovation

October 10, 2017


The historic Stone Soap building will be undergoing a $27 million renovation, Detroit officials announced Wednesday, October 6. The renovation will be the first step in Detroit’s East Riverfront Framework redevelopment project, put in motion in March 2017.

The project will be lead by Banyan Investments, a real estate investment company. The Detroit-based developer plans to transform the industrial complex into a mixed-use building, adding three to six additional stories. According to the Michigan Chronicle, the project will also include 63 new residential units, retail space, and a performance space for Detroit’s local Shakespeare company.

“The riverfront belongs to everybody,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “And the redevelopment of the Stone Soap building is a big piece of how we are making it a walkable, enjoyable amenity for all Detroiters.”

The Stone Soap building is a key piece of Detroit’s history. Built in 1907, the complex was the home of multiple industrial companies before the Stone Soap Company, a detergent manufacturer, took ownership of the complex in the 1970s. However, since the late 1990s the building has been vacant.

“This new project continues the momentum created by years of investment from [Detroit Economic Growth Corporation] and our partners in public space and infrastructure,” said Executive Vice President of Real Estate at the DEGC, Moddie Turay.

Of the 63 remodeled apartments, 33 will be rentals created within the original structure of the building. The other 30 units will be newly constructed condominiums. Remodeling projects in the U.S. typically involve kitchen remodels (79%) and bathroom remodels (81%). However, a total of 35% of remodeling projects in the U.S. have involved the entire property. Oftentimes, this is because of a property’s age, which is what makes the 1907 Stone Soap building that much more incredible.

Up to 20% of the residential units will be dedicated to those making the median income in Detroit, or $38,000 a year. As a result, the developers are meeting the required threshold put in place by the Affordable Housing Ordinance of Detroit.

The commercial area of the building will include an open market concept in a European style like that of the Ponce City Market in Atlanta and Denver’s Union Station. Banyan Investments also intends to introduce a parking carousel as a part of the complex, a new kind of parking technology that has been used more recently in New York City.

For residents of the building, the complex also plans to include bike stations, storage units, a gym, pool, and rooftop gardens. This latter feature is an added bonus for potential renters and homebuyers in an urban space; up to 83% of Americans believe owning a yard is essential.

Among these residential and commercial developments will be a new permanent public performing arts space for SiD, Shakespeare in Detroit, a nonprofit Shakespeare organization that performs live theatre productions throughout the city.

“As someone who was born and raised in Detroit, I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally have a home in one of my favorite places in my hometown, the East Riverfront, for the work that our young arts organization has been doing the past five seasons,” said Founding Artistic and Executive Director of Shakespeare in Detroit, Sam White.

The Stone Soap renovation is expected to begin during spring 2018. Pending the approval of the Detroit City Council, the building will be completed by fall 2020.

Photo: Banyan Investors

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