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New Center developers buy former WJBK building for $2.6M

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Adam Lutz and Matthew Sosin are already partnering on redevelopment of the Albert Kahn Building across the street

Aeriel view of a two story brick building with a satellite dish on the roof. It’s surrounded by other tall buildings. Photos by Chris Gerard

Work is well underway at the Albert Kahn Building in New Center to convert the historic office building into 206 studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments with ground-floor retail. Meanwhile, developers Adam Lutz and Matt Sosin have just made another major purchase across the street.

Near the end of 2019, the groups closed on the former WJBK-TV Studios building at 7441 2nd Avenue for $2.6 million. Ottawa-based Halcor listed it in May last year for $3.5 million with Vincent Mazzola of O’Connor Real Estate.

Matt Sosin, president of Northern Equities Group, says they have no definite plans for the property at the moment. “It remains to be seen what will happen with the building,” he says. “The building, the site, the zoning are flexible. You can do office, hotel, apartments.” It also comes with 80 parking spots.

Instead, the group is focused on completing The Residences at the Albert Kahn and are offering the WJBK building for rent. The leasing agent is AJ Weiner at JLL.

A large stone Art Deco building to the left. Across the street is the smaller former studios building with the satellite dish on the roof. In the distance is a tall building that comes to a point.
The WJBK building is across the street from the Albert Kahn Building, which is under construction.

The 38,000-square-foot Georgian Revival built in 1956 is notable for several reasons. There’s a limestone-trimmed portico at the front entrance, and a frieze and cornice at the top of the two-story building. It’s also the only building designed in Detroit by John L. Volk, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Lutz and Sosin say The Residences at the Albert Kahn are on track for a summer 2020 completion date—one of the few developments expected to finish on schedule due to rising construction costs. Given all the activity currently underway in New Center, we expect WJBK to also get redeveloped at some point.