The state’s first Capital One Café, a glassy new façade and pedestrian-friendly patio are in the works for the long vacant 511 Woodward building in downtown Detroit.
The Elia Group, based in Birmingham, added another Detroit property to its portfolio after closing Wednesday on the $4.65 million purchase of the 30,000-square-foot building from Wayne County.
Construction will begin immediately to overhaul the exterior and white box the inside, said Zaid Elia, founder and CEO of The Elia Group. All told, including purchase price, investment in the building is expected to top $10 million.
“This property sits in the heart of the city and has been vacant well over 20 years,” Elia said. “We bring properties in phenomenal locations that have been sitting derelict and bring them back to life, and make sure they are functional but mean something to the community where it sits.”
The four-story building rests at the footsteps of the Guardian Building and holds its HVAC system on its roof. The empty structure fronts downtown’s main thoroughfare near Spirit Plaza and Campus Martius Park.
Wayne County bought the building in 2008 for about $2 million, financed by bonds it issued to also buy the Guardian Building for $14.5 million. The bonds became callable last year, when the county began aggressively marketing 511 Woodward, said Khalil Rahal, assistant Wayne County executive.
“It’s part of the larger financial recovery strategy” of the county, Rahal said. “One of the many ways we kept increasing our financial capacity is putting real estate assets back into productive use.”
Virginia-based Capital One Financial Corp. will establish its first branch presence in Detroit with its Capital One Café, which will take up 7,000 square feet on two floors, according to a news release. It will include a Peet’s Coffee shop, along with community work space.
The bank café will offer traditional banking services, ATMs and complimentary financial education programs. Around 25 new jobs would be created there after the company’s anticipated build-out of more than $1 million.
Crain’s left an inquiry with the bank’s communications representative for more details.
The bank café is expected to open when building renovations are complete in September, Elia said.
Detroit-based Walbridge Aldinger Co. is the general contractor and Detroit-based Yamasaki Inc. is the architect.
The project is being supported with $1.56 million in brownfield tax incentives, Elia said. The city of Detroit and the Historic District Commission (the building sits within a historic financial district) have given the green light on construction.
Wayne County is continuing to market real estate assets for sale, Rahal said. It approved the $4.9 million purchase of the 650-acre Pinnacle Race Course site in Huron Township in October and has other potential deals developing, he said.
Elia’s portfolio in Detroit includes the Ford Building, the Parc Detroit restaurant and Cadillac Tower, which he put up for sale in March just a couple of months after buying it.
Elia said he is in discussion with the Downtown Detroit Partnership as a potential tenant as well as “national tech companies” he declined to name. Detroit-based Iconic Real Estate is leasing the space on behalf of Elia.
Rahal said Elia’s vision for activating a dormant piece of downtown helped seal the deal, and securing a lease with Capital One speaks to his real estate savvy and the attractiveness of Detroit.
“Bankers know where the money is going,” Rahal said.”