O’Connor Realty and Development is nearing the end of a project 10 years in the making: to rehab the vacant buildings along both sides of Michigan Avenue between 14th and Wabash streets in Corktown. The final phase of the project — a three-story structure that will soon house a restaurant called Gold Cash Gold and six apartments — was approved this week for a $200,000 performance-based grant from Michigan Economic Development Corp.
“We’re pretty excited,” says Ryan Cooley, who opened the family-operated O’Conner Realty in 2004. “Our whole goal when we moved back (to Detroit) was to take this block, where there was only one occupied building, and see if we could transform it. We’ve rehabbed five other buildings on the block so far — this is the last one.”
The stretch of avenue is home to LJ’s Lounge as well as Slows Bar BQ, Mercury Burger Bar, Astro Coffee, O’Connor’s offices, and — ideally, by late summer, early fall — Gold Cash Gold, Cooley says.
Located in a former pawnshop of the same name, Gold Cash Gold will maintain the exterior look of the previous occupant with a coat of fresh paint. Inside, Cooley will keep the space open, and use as much reclaimed materials as possible.
The restaurant will seat around 90 people and has signed on Josh Stockton as its chef. “He’s finalizing the menu at this point,” Cooley says. “The term we’re using right now is ‘southern brasserie (French and Southern cuisine).’ We’re going to be kind of like tavern food, maybe slightly elevated, but we want to make sure the price points are consistent with the rest of the neighborhood.”
On the second and third floors of the building will be six apartment units owned and managed by Diamonds & Rifles LLC, an entity created by O’Connor Development. There are four, two-bedrooms units that rent from $1,300-$1,500 per month, and two, one-bedroom units that will be $750-$800 per month. Each apartment features exposed brick, recycled floors, and repurposed cabinetry.
“I haven’t even started advertising them, and I have four of the six rented,” Cooley says. He expects the units will be completed by June. He is joined by his wife, Meghan McEwen; his brother, Phil Cooley; parents Ron and Patty Cooley; April Boyle, and Toby Barlow.
Overall, the project is expected to create approximately 50 jobs and result in a total capital investment of $1.9 million, say MEDC officials. The Detroit Development Fund and Detroit Investment Fund are financing approximately 66 percent of total development costs.