It's no secret that Detroit —the onetime capital of American auto production before it became a symbol of postindustrial collapse—is on the upswing . With companies like Shinola breathing life into the local economy, new shops, restaurants, and galleries opening up throughout downtown, and UNESCO designating it a City of Design last year, the Midwestern metropolis is once again becoming a center of creativity and commerce. It's no surprise, then, that demand for modern apartments downtown is spiking. Enter Bedrock , the local real-estate developer helmed by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert. The company has just released plans for 28Grand, the first ground-up residential development in Detroit's central business district project since the 1980s—and the city's first micro-lofts.

"The trend of micro-living started in the Pacific Northwest, but it moved across the country pretty quickly," says Bedrock principal Steve Rosenthal. "It was hard in the beginning for developers to synthesize the idea, since it's such a different project than they're used to. We had to really understand how it would relate to Detroit. How do people live here compared to other cities? What we are seeing is that people want to live simply, and they want to have this sense of experiential living." To achieve that, Rosenthal and his team conceived a mixed-use building that includes retail space on the ground floor and 218 fully furnished micro-lofts, 85 of which are available to residents with low-income-housing tax credits. Each unit measures 260 square feet and includes a bed, dining area, small kitchen, and bath. Larger communal spaces allow room for residents to socialize, entertain, and relax together.

A rendering of the exterior of 28Grand.

"The common spaces were designed so that you can be in a space with 20 people or go in alone with a book and feel comfortable both ways," says Jamie Witherspoon, Bedrock's in-house architect, who designed the building along with Kraemer Design Group. It was important to the team that the common areas encourage a sense of community among the building's tenants. "We started looking at what was happening in different cities and realized quickly that it's not just about making small apartments; it’s about rethinking how people are living. It's more about experience and less about stuff."

In response, the residences are compact, making use of every square inch of their small space. "The furniture and the design of the unit were thoughtfully tailored to provide a lot of storage," says Witherspoon. "It’s almost more thinking about the volume of the space than the square footage, because we’ve used vertical space as well. There are huge windows with beautiful views of the city. The approach is a higher-quality finish, a modern, airy feel, which translates to the common living space. Part of this lifestyle is having less private space and more communal."

The 260-square-foot units come fully furnished.

"It’s a little analogous to the communal, open work space we have now," says Rosenthal of the trend toward shared living. "I think people want to live that way, and if you design the spaces for social interaction, then people will do it." For Bedrock, it was also imperative that the building be integrated into the downtown culture. "We wanted to consider what there is to do in the city," says Rosenthal. "Looking at Detroit now, we see plenty of opportunity to do things in the city. The Q line will be up and running in 2017, so residents can get around to other parts of the city. They can be outside of their own space; they have a simple space to live in and can experience what the city has to offer." From the looks of it, Detroit will have much to offer indeed.

Apartments at 28Grand will be available in summer 2017.


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