Exclusive: Bedrock Acquires 2 Historic Buildings Along Detroit’s Lower Woodward Corridor


Bedrock Real Estate Services, part of the Quicken Loans family of companies, has acquired two neighboring historic buildings along the lower Woodward corridor in downtown Detroit from Howard Schwartz, principal of Howard Schwartz Commercial Real Estate in Farmington Hills. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Each structure has two addresses — the Grinnell Building at 1515 and 1521 Woodward Ave. and the Sanders Building at 1525 and 1529 Woodward Ave. — and are located north of Clifford Street. The acquisitions, confirmed by a Bedrock official, adds to a growing collection of buildings that the company has acquired along Woodward since 2011.

The Grinnell, a six-story structure with a mostly white glazed terra cotta façade and designed by Albert Kahn in 1908, was originally built for $150,000 by the Grinnell Brothers, which operated a network of music stores. From a piano manufacturing plant in Holly, the musical instruments were shipped to a Grinnell warehouse in Corktown before being distributed to numerous Grinnell music stores. The warehouse was later redeveloped into the Grinnell Lofts.

Operating 18 stores throughout Michigan, the flagship Grinnell store on Woodward offered fine china, crystal, radio-phonographs, organs, guitars, and other merchandise. The first floor of the building is currently occupied by a Henry Ford Health System medical clinic. The upper floors will likely be renovated into office lofts.

The Sanders Building, also designed by Albert Kahn, opened in 1912 as the Fisher Arcade. The first ground floor tenant was believed to be Dittrich Furs, followed by Tuttle & Clark, a purveyor of auto apparel and accessories in the 1930s. The Sanders Miller Corp. acquired the structure in 1948, where it offered chocolate, candy, baked goods, and ice cream on three floors, including a second-floor luncheon counter with 140 seats and a fountain. The upper floors were eventually leased to the Grinnell Brothers.

Renovation plans for the Sanders Building will likely include ground-floor retail commercial space, with the upper floors reserved for office lofts.

Jim Bieri, principal of Stokas Bieri Real Estate, a commercial retail brokerage firm in downtown Detroit, says the latest Bedrock acquisitions are part of “a long range plan to create a viable retail corridor along Woodward Avenue.”

With the recent addition of restaurants, a John Varvatos store, a Moosejaw store, and an upcoming Nike store, among other offerings, the lower Woodward corridor is being transformed into a linear shopping mall, Bieri says.

“Bedrock will attract magnet tenants along Woodward that will draw people to the downtown district,” he says. “The plan is to control as much real estate downtown so that they can control the tenant mix. It’s going to be fun watching what new tenants they add downtown given they have such an excellent track record.”