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New bar, alley with retail, nightlife planned in downtown Detroit after $14.5 million in renovations

The owner of three office buildings in downtown Detroit is planning a total of $14.5 million in renovations to accommodate a new bar and "activated" alleyway for entertainment, retail and dining.

The properties at 44 W. Michigan Ave., 220 W. Congress St. and 607 Shelby St. are owned by Detroit-based Basco of Michigan Inc., whose principal is Roger Basmajian. They are largely empty and made up of 118,000 square feet of vacant space, including nearly 15,000 square feet of potential commercial space.

A bar is expected to take the 1,200-square-foot basement space below Brome Modern Eatery at the 48,000-square-foot building at 607 Shelby, with lease negotiations being finalized, according to Ben Hubert, vice president in the Detroit office of brokerage firm Colliers International Inc., which is marketing the retail space for the buildings. The brokerage firm for the office space is the Southfield office of Los Angeles-based CBRE Inc.

At 44 Michigan Ave., there is "a deal in the works" for a single retail tenant to occupy the full 21,500-square-foot building, formerly inhabited by First Independence Bank. There is also interest in 220 W. Congress, a vacant 35,000-square-foot building with 2,000-5,500 square feet of retail available, Hubert said.

He declined to disclose names of potential tenants because agreements have not been finalized.

Around $7.5 million was invested in renovations that recently wrapped up at 607 Shelby, while $9 million is being pumped into 220 W. Congress, with work expected to be complete later this year, according to CBRE. About $8 million will be spent building out 44 Michigan Ave. once a lease is finalized.

In 2016, there were discussions about building on top of 44 Michigan Ave.

The alleyway would tie into retail at 220 W. Congress and 607 Shelby. There are plans for it to have "new lighting, artwork and space for retailers, which could include entertainment, nightlife and dining options," according to a news release.

"We have seen other successful developments find creative uses for public spaces and this will definitely increase traffic and tap into the live, work, play environment that is very prevalent in Detroit right now," Jasper Hanifi, associate with CBRE, said in the release.

The general contractor for 220 W. Congress is Detroit-based MiG Construction and the architect is Detroit-based Archive DS. There has not been a contractor hired yet for 44 Michigan Ave., and the contractors for 607 Shelby were not given. Architects were not disclosed.

Basmajian owns more than a dozen properties in Detroit, including the Busy Bee Hardware property in the Eastern Market district that he bought in 2017 with ambitious redevelopment plans that have been slow moving thus far. He's also involved in the Paradise Valley projects announced in 2015.