Detroit’s Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center to Undergo $50M Facelift


Detroit’s Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center in the Brush Park neighborhood will undergo $50 million in renovations to transform Joe Louis’ former training center into a multi-use facility that will house businesses, community programming, and a restaurant.

“When this redevelopment is completed, we will have a facility that honors the legacy of Joe Louis, Leon Wheeler and so many others, and re-establishes its connection to the community,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced in a press conference today.

The Wheeler Recreation Center was once scheduled for demolition. K.C. Crain, the COO of Detroit-based Crain Communications, along with Ferndale’s Vinsetta Garage owner Curt Catallo, formed Union Joints LLC, who will lead the makeover project.

One feature will be a restaurant that will be built on top of a restored basketball floor, and will have a theme centered around the Joe Louis mural and the boxing ring in which he used to train. There will also be a bar that will be dedicated to Leon Wheeler, who in 1919 became the city’s first African-American recreation worker and managed the center from the time it opened in 1929 until 1945.

Union Joints will spend $10 million to redevelop the space into the restaurant, and will also create a kitchen incubator, culinary arts studio, catering space, and community and meeting space.  

A multi-family, mixed-use apartment complex with up to 150 units will also be built on the southern half of the property. The $37 million project will include affordable units that are at or below market rate.