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Galapagos Hosts Open House for Commonwealth

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Share in the wealth!

Michelle & Chris Gerard

After a quiet year and a half, Galapagos Art Space is back in the news. They're looking for artists to become part of their investment in Detroit, and you're welcome to go check out their Corktown warehouse on Saturday.

You might remember the Brooklyn art group bought property in Corktown and Highland Park in hopes of creating massive performance spaces and art venues. This past winter, after owner Robert Elmes' son was battling leukemia, he put the Corktown warehouse on the market for $6.5 million to focus energy elsewhere. They then decided to keep the space and offer partial ownership for its tenants.

It's called Commonwealth. And these are big, big ideas.

There are many  large spaces available here. Any kind of artist, builder, or maker could move in to work and create. And if the artist rents and stays,

At the end of ten years we're going to divide 20% of our buildings increase in value, pro-rate that amount to your square footage, and give it to you for your own down payment. It's that simple.

Robert Elmes talked to Curbed today, and told us about his ideas for the space. He says the space is intended to anchor the arts in the city, and at the end of the ten years the artists will share the upside of that investment.

He says that Galapagos is looking for different ways for the arts to survive, and this idea will give emerging artists the tools to grow and build skills as owners (such as POS, retail, and marketing) so they can go out and buy space of their own when the time is right.

It's really a way to merge arts and real estate, he says, and show the benefit of investment in both. It'll expand artists' ideas into the physical world of buildings, and not just the stage.

Since announcing the program, he says they've had a lot of traffic, calls, and interest in Commonwealth.

The warehouse should be LEED certified, with a green roof and a rooftop cafe. There would also be a ground floor cafe leading out to a courtyard, plus retail space to sell the artists' goods. Oh, and childcare and "super amazing, fantastical wifi."


The building is 128,000 square feet. According to their website,

"We think our building is worth $32.00 per square foot right now. Renovated, we think it will be worth $50 per square foot. In ten years we believe it will double in value to $100 per share foot.

Building assessment after renovation = $50 psf

Building value after ten years of operation = $100 psf

Increase in value = $50 psf / 20% = $10 per square foot

$10 x 10,000 square feet = $100,000 to you for your nest egg"

The open house is this Saturday, May 21 from 2-6. The warehouse is located behind Michigan Central Station, right between Corktown and Mexicantown.


The Highland Park space is coming along, he says, slowly but surely. It will serve as the venue, but funding is not coming in as they had hoped. So for now, they'll focus on building this space for artists to grow.

1800 18th St.

1800 18th St, Detroit, MI 48216, USA