Driving down Woodward Avenue — just past the construction of the new Red Wings arena — a nearly desolate neighborhood sits just north of the Fisher Freeway. This is Brush Park, a historic district that once housed Detroit’s most affluent residents and most opulent homes.
Brush Park’s fall is a familiar narrative: Buildings went into disarray, vast numbers of people left, then past elegance became haunting emptiness. But now Metro Detroiters are growing accustomed to a new story — one of rebirth.
Richard Broder and Todd Sachse, both of whom attend Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, are contributing to that rebirth. The duo has co-owned Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services for 23 years, but this year marks a unique moment. Along with local architecture firm Neumann Smith, they are creating the first ground-up construction project Brush Park has seen in decades: The Scott Brush Park, a five-story apartment complex housing 199 residential units and retail on the ground floor.
Yet a new housing development in a neighborhood dotted with blighted Victorian mansions is no easy task.
“We’ve worked very closely with the Brush Park Community Development Corporation to make sure that the [architectural style] complements the neighborhood but is also appropriate for the times,” Broder says.
Adds Sachse: “The Scott will bring a new type of lifestyle-focused residential experience to Detroit that does not currently exist.”
For instance, the building will include a rooftop pool, a dog-washing station, dog walkers, a four-season outdoor spa and a lifestyle coordinator who will plan regular events at the building and in the neighborhood.
Prior to working on the Scott, Broder and Sachse worked on the rehabilitation of another architectural gem, the Albert in Capitol Park.
“In some regards, ground-up construction is simpler,” Broder reflects. “There are fewer surprises and you’re building what you designed. With respect to the Albert, it was a 1929 building and there were surprises — things you can’t see or know about until you dive in.”
There was one unforeseen hurdle in building the Scott, though.
“It was discovered that our construction site used to be a gas station years ago,” Sachse says, “so our workers had to clear out 50-year-old gas tanks from the ground before building. Detroit has taught us a thing or two; you never know what you’re going to get while preparing for a construction site.”
For example, in the dust of building the Scott, Broder and Sachse found an unexpected link between Brush Park and Detroit’s Jewish heritage.
“The fraternal civic center, which is from whom we bought the land [for the Scott], is an African American masonic lodge, but originally their building was a Jewish community center back in the 1910s and ’20s,” Broder says.
Built in 1905 at 114 Erskine St., this Jewish community center became the M.W. King David Grand Lodge in the 1960s.
Thanks to careful planning — and “easy-going weather,” Sachse adds — the Scott remains on track for a December 2016 opening. There’s already excitement among potential tenants, too, which is no surprise; in the last three years, 136 new businesses have opened in greater Downtown Detroit with 91 of them owned by women or minorities. Twenty-seven new businesses are coming soon.
“I want to stress the importance of Detroit’s revitalization not only for Detroiters, but also for the Southeast Michigan region,” Sachse says.
That belief is why Sachse moved Sachse Construction’s headquarters from Birmingham to Downtown Detroit’s central business district in 2012.
“We recognized an exciting change taking place in the city, and we wanted to be at the heart of helping to drive this positive change,” he says. “Detroit is an upcoming and thriving environment with a lot of young talent.”
Since the move, Sachse Construction has worked on Detroit-based projects such as the new Nike Store (which opened on Woodward Avenue last May), the expansion of the Lofts at Merchants Row, the Michigan Humane Society, Whole Foods, John Varvatos and the renovation of the Detroit Athletic Club.
“Your home city is part of your identity,” Sachse says. “I want to see more Michiganders feel empowered to participate in the revitalization — whether you are located within the city or the suburbs — because the success of Detroit will reap long-term benefits across the state.”
For more information about the Scott, visit www.thescottdetroit.com.
By Martin Michalek | Special to the Jewish News