BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Staff Columnist
Last week’s article was about the history of Detroit and how it was founded, what happened throughout the years and what made the city what it is today. This week we are going to talk about the brand new Somerset CityLoft store in the heart of Downtown Detroit. The store is located at 1441 Woodward Ave. and 1443 Woodward Ave. with the brand new addition next door. The CityLoft is a compilation of stores inside what used to be “Merchant’s Row.”
Merchant’s Row is basically over 30 buildings, built back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The buildings were designed to have first floor retail and the upper floors as office space. By the early 1920’s it was the most active shopping district in the country and the corner of Woodward and State St. was the busiest pedestrian crossing in the United States in 1925. The shopping district was anchored by some big name stores that you may actually recognize. Vernor’s, Sanders Confectionary (Ice Cream), F.W. Woolworth Co. (Now Foot Locker) and Hudson’s (Now Macy’s), lined Merchant’s row and definitely were the flagship stores. Though all of these companies are now gone from Downtown, including the old Hudson’s building which was demolished in 1998, Somerset is helping to bring retail back to the city.
Somerset along with Cadillac, Quicken Loans, and Bank of America help put this together and bring the stores downtown. They opened up for only one weekend a month that started in late July and turned into the last weekend of the month. July 28, 29, and 30 were the dates it was first open and there was an overwhelming response. American Coney Island provided a small pop up stand for anyone wanting to buy some Coney island hot dogs right outside CityLoft, Cadillac had a tent set up for karaoke, there was a place to do Yoga, the models in the windows were live people and there was even a doorman with a top hat opening the door for you when you wanted to go in or out. Over 1000 people attended the opening weekend of the CityLoft, surpassing expectations by a long shot.
Cadillac provided and still does provide a shuttle service on Thursday and Friday from 11:00am-7:00pm to and from the following locations: Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Compuware Building, One Woodward, Renaissance Center, DTE Energy, Westin Book Cadillac and the Fillmore Theatre. On Saturday, the following buildings have shuttle service from 10:00am-4:00pm: MGM Grand Detroit Casino, Motor City Casino, Atheneum Hotel, The Fillmore Theatre, Renaissance Center, Westin Book Cadillac, and the Boston Edison Neighborhood at Voight Park.
The shuttle service provided by Cadillac is something that not only helps with parking but gives a shopper an experience to ride in a Cadillac around Detroit. There is also a Valet service at CityLoft if you want to use that as well. The opening of the CityLoft had 38 stores initially, but in a smaller context. The building cannot hold 38 stores so they had mini-stores. The CityLoft is not meant to be a permanent location either; it was put in place to see what the retail scene could look like in the future.
The stores that are located inside CityLoft come directly from the Somerset Collection in Troy. Anne Fontaine, Baby Gap, Bare Escentuals, Basler, Betsey Johnson, Brookstone, Eddie Bauer, Eileen Fisher, GAP, Godiva, Gymboree, Henri Bendel, Intermix, Johnston & Murphy, Kate Spade, LEGO, lululemon athletica, Marmi, Max Marma, Max Studio, Michael Kors, Montblanc, Neiman Marcus, Origins, Restoration Hardware, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. Croix, Swarovski, Sweet Factory, Tappers Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, The Art of Shaving, The Capital Grille, The Coach Store, The Detroit Shoppe, The North Face, Tommy Bahama, Tumi, and Vera Bradley are all the original stores that started out inside CityLoft.
The stores that will be joining the ones above for the final weekend are: Au Courant Optical, Brooks Brothers, Lily Pulitzer, Paradise Pen, Pottery Barn, Saks, and Sur La Table. Around 40 or more stores will be represented in the final week with a few mentioned in the original opening not attending such as Nieman Marcus. The expectation is high for the final week and with the awesome response so far, the possibility of the CityLoft staying Downtown, maybe not in the same building but somewhere in Detroit would help spur retail development all over Downtown.
The final weekend for Somerset CityLoft is September 29, 30 and October 1. The same shuttle stops mentioned above will be there for your convenience as well as a new stop at the 12th Detroit Police Precinct at 7 Mile and Woodward Ave. The CityLoft has not only given Detroit and shoppers across the Metro area a great place to shop and have fun, but it has given Detroit some hope that retail can and will survive in the city. If you can get down there sometime next weekend I would highly recommend it. In next week’s article we will talk about the history and revival of the Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel and Fort Shelby Hotel and Apartment Buildings and what they are doing to spur the development of other hotels around the Downtown area.
To read the original post that appeared in the Michigan Journal, on September 19, 2011, go to www.michiganjournal.org.