Matthew and Kevin Morin are riding the wave of development into Detroit’s neighborhoods as land and buildings in popular areas like Eastern Market become more expensive and limited. But to say their restoration project is unusual is an understatement.
In March the brothers acquired the former Third Precinct of the Detroit Police Department, located a few blocks from Eastern Market on Hunt Street, just south of Gratiot Avenue. Constructed in 1897, the three-story, brick-and-limestone structure was built like a rock and, based on the decorative elements and amenities, seemingly designed for a higher use.
Consider the ornamental limestone sculptures at the main entrance, which include a police shield, handcuffs, and the faces of police officers. Inside the three-brick-thick walls are a tin ceiling, terrazzo floors, jail cells (the metal bars were removed), and a training academy on the third floor that included a boxing ring, a gymnasium floor, and a shooting range, as evidenced by bullet marks in the wood molding.
“It was an operating precinct until 1959, then general office space, and then it was abandoned for awhile, because some of the wood-carved banisters were burned — but we found enough of them that we’re having them recreated,” says Matthew, CEO of Macro Connect, a technology consulting firm for schools across the nation (Kevin is CTO).
By December, the brothers, who have renamed the building Hunt Street Station, will move their offices into the second floor of the 14,000-square-foot structure. In turn, they’ll operate a co-working space on the first floor for entrepreneurs and firms that want to rent office space or conference rooms (they plan to convert it into a restaurant in two or three years).
The brothers are looking for a tenant to lease the third floor. A lower level, which included a wet/dry room for police officers who were out on patrol as well as an adjacent smoking room, will likely be used for co-working space, as well.
The brothers aren’t alone in expanding into the neighborhoods. Immediately south of their building, Ciena Healthcare is developing a large nursing center called Regency at Chene, while to the west, The Platform, a development group in Detroit, plans to build multifamily housing and retail at the site of the former Joe Muer restaurant at Gratiot and East Vernor.
“You’re seeing projects all across the neighborhoods,” says Jay Lambrecht, principal of Lambrecht Realty in Detroit, the listing broker at Hunt Street Station. “If the economy keeps growing, you’ll see more and more of it.”