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An update on the progress of developments in Core City

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Philip Kafka’s expansion of the district around Warren and Grand River avenues continued this summer

An overhead view of two buildings and shipping containers around a gravel park Photo by Chris Miele

It’s rare you see a single developer execute a single vision in a neighborhood. But that’s what’s been taking place in Core City around the intersection of Warren and Grand River avenues.

There developer Philip Kafka, who began his Detroit investments with the successful restaurant Takoi, has been buying and rehabilitating property to create a unified district of businesses and residences. He’s also the sole investor in the project and hasn’t taken on any partners.

Development in the district first began with the Quonset Huts, dubbed True North, which have been recognized internationally with design awards.

Across the street, a number of buildings are being redeveloped and now house businesses like the bakery and restaurant Ochre, an ad agency, a jewelry designer, and more. Between the buildings, there’s a new park on the site of a former parking lot containing trees and benches repurposed from the walls of a nearby building.

When we last checked in with the project in May, a couple of buildings were still being worked on which will eventually result in 50,000 square feet of retail, office, and residential space.

Crain’s Detroit Business provided another update this week, and it seems that construction is more or less on schedule. A new restaurant, Magnet, should open the first week of September in what was an auto repair shop. New tenants 313 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Pantry, a 3,000-square-foot combined event space and commercial kitchen, have moved in.

As for the former supermarket known as the 5K Building, Crain’s reports that...

[It] has been gutted and sections of its ceiling carved out to create enclosed courtyards. The structure would house eight apartments of 700-1,600 square feet renting for $1,350-$2,500, as well as around three commercial spaces and a small retail section.

The Power Plant building will still serve as a covered extension of the park with space for six vendors. Kafka hopes for both those buildings to be finished by December.

This unique development that experiments with placemaking is something we’ll continue to follow in the coming months and years.