While Dan Gilbert's vision for Downtown Detroit includes a sprinkling of beer tents, nothing in A Plan for Our Time comes close to this level of liquor legitimacy: Paul Howard, co-owner of Cliff Bell's and the Bronx Bar, has a new bar/restaurant in the works at the PuppetART Theatre building, just one block off Woodward Avenue. The bar's name and menu are still up in the air, but there's still much work to be done (this photo is especially flattering). There will be plenty of time for pondering appetizers and names while prying that gloomy awning off the limestone facade.
A few years ago, Paul Howard began looking for a good spot Downtown to house a new bar/restaurant, scoring this property late last summer after watching the price creep downwards. Sporting some sleek Modernist architecture, this building has some quirks: The basement, for instance, is an 1890s hand-me-down from the University Building, which originally occupied the lot before burning down. Builders simply built the PuppetART building on top of the old foundation in 1946.
Another interesting feature hides just underneath the awning. While awnings are the devil's work and usually deserve a dumpster, this one is obscuring a stainless steel band that wraps the entire facade. Daylighting that band will restore the exterior's original proportions, which were purposefully uneven to give the upper half more prominence. (Article continues after rendering)
The portion of the lower level not occupied by PuppetART (which will remain intact and open) will be home to the main bar and seating area. While the second floor will be opened up and made into an event space, the seating below is the priority and will likely be finished first.
Speaking of seating, let's go outside. Not only do those steel doors hide some gigantic windows; the sidewalk on Farmer Street is super wide to accommodate a column underneath the People Mover track. That means it'll also accommodate some outdoor seating. Who says the People Mover never helped Detroit?
There's still much work and planning to be done, but Howard hopes to have things up and running by the summer 2014. In the meantime, we're told the PuppetART Theatre next door puts on a pretty good show. Otherwise, sit back and watch the evolution of what'll likely be a Downtown staple in the not-so-distant future.