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Duplex Has Best of Big City Living Without the High Rise

Business Writer Jon Zemke has already bought six fixer-upper buildings in Detroit and just can't help but spot more he'd buy if he could. In his ongoing series "The Fix" he takes us to the very best money pits the city has to offer.

There might just be a new lucky buyer in Detroit; as of last week, there was a pending offer for this property on Bagley St. You can’t beat $12,000 for a duplex in Hubbard Farms. Yes, it’s a short sale so the paperwork and closing time would be significant. But at $6,000 per unit, it’s worth the wait. This place has come on and off the market before so keep an eye out in case it decides to make one more appearance.

Lovers of urban living will understand why a building like 3923 Bagley makes me excited. The Hubbard Farms duplex is made for people who value the high density and walkability of big city living.

This 104-year-old duplex is squeezed between another duplex, its sister triplex and a line of townhouses across the street. BTW, that’s code for no lack of neighbors and a recipe for plentiful eyes on the street. Plus, there is it’s location a few blocks from Mexicantown’s Clark Park, Cafe Con Leche and Detroit SOUP that makes it a prime living place for anyone looking for close proximity of something to do.

There is a word or two of warning about a place like this after speaking with Ryan Cooley, owner of O’Connor Real Estate which is brokering this sale. There is a reason why there is only a picture of the building’s exterior. Apparently one unit is occupied by people who aren’t letting potential buyers look inside. The other side is vacant and not looking too photogenic.

If that’s the case, expect to have to do some serious work to the building’s core systems, such as plumbing, electrical and heating, on top of repairing and brightening up any interior aesthetics. Also, the roof appears closer to the end of its useful life than the beginning. Don’t be shocked if you have to repair or even replace it.

On the plus side, the brick exterior looks structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing and free of graffiti. Those entryway arches turn heads and cause gawking neck kinks. And the wonderfully preserved bay window and dog house dormers add great architectural touches to a timeless building. Whoever ends up with this will end up with a sizable project but at that price and with those strong bones, it has great potential as a rental in the gentrifying hot spot that is Hubbard Farms.

· "The Fix" Archives [Curbed Detroit]
· 3923 Bagley St. [O'Connor Detroit]

Bagley St. Duplex

3923 Bagley St. , Detroit, MI