Beginning tomorrow, Thursday the 28th, Somerset CityLoft, inside Merchants Row at 1441 Woodward in Detroit, between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park, will open with mini versions of more than 30 stores from the Somerset Collection in Troy. It will be open the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the month through at least September. In addition to shopping, the loft will also feature food and entertainment. Organizers say they want it to have a party vibe. Quoting from a recent Detroit Free Press article, “With its dark purple walls, rustic chandeliers, marble tile and fitting rooms, CityLoft represents hope and promise in a downtown that is becoming more lively as companies transfer workers downtown.”
I am writing this blog because I want to encourage all residents and workers in the Downtown, and nearby neighborhoods, to come out and support this effort. It is certainly not because of a love for Somerset – nor a desire to denigrate businesses that have already discovered the importance of locating in the city. Rather, it comes from my desire to show that retail in downtown will be supported! I remember former Mayor Archer saying that he finally realized, after attending a number of International Shopping Center conferences, that retail attraction can only come with employment and residential density downtown. Well – we appear to be on the cusp of that – with the recent moves of companies downtown, the tremendous development in Midtown, and the wonderful live local campaigns that have come under the umbrella of Midtown Inc. and Sue Mosey.
I need to take a moment to applaud those who have come first and are the vanguard of business – the salon pictured above that is at Merchant’s Row; Avalon Bakery; Bureau of urban Living; City Bird; Canine-to-Five; and many more. Let us build upon that throughout our city. While shopping is not one of my favorite pastimes, I will buy something this weekend and encourage my staff to do so as well.
As I was quoted in that same Free Press article, “A true downtown is defined by high concentrations of employment, a strong element of residential, restaurants, services and a reasonable mix of retail. To be a major city you need more than just a lot of residents, you need a downtown.” Many of us truly believe Detroit is a major city – we just need to fill in a few gaps.