Woodward Garden Block taking shape

Posted on June 12, 2012

Detroit’s newest theater should be open by this time next year, and an adjoining housing and commercial development won’t be too far behind, developers said Monday.

The Woodward Garden Block Development, a more than decade-old project, received the last financing needed in April to complete the $12.3 million rehabilitation of the 32,000-square-foot Woodward Garden Theatre.

The theater will be modeled after the Pageant Concert Nightclub in St. Louis, which can handle, according to the nightclub’s website, 1,000 to 2,300 concertgoers, depending on the event.

The theater’s open area will have a capacity of 1,300, with most patrons standing, said Michael Byrd, a partner in Woodward SA-PK LLC, which has worked with Woodward Garden Theater LLC on the project since 2002. It will house “concerts of all kinds” but will lean toward Motown and bluegrass artists, he said.

“We’re not looking to be the Fox (Theatre),” Byrd said. “We’re looking to be the best at our level.”

The residential and commercial development should be completed in 14 months, Byrd said.

There will be 47 apartments priced “between market rate and high-market rate,” he said. Midtown currently has an apartment vacancy rate of less than 4 percent, according to Midtown Inc.

The commercial development could include a clothing store, shoe store, computer center and battery repair shop, but no commitments will be official until the structure is complete, Byrd said. The project will create an estimated 380 jobs.

The project struggled to find funding until it was split into four phases. The long-closed Garden Theatre received $1 million in loans from state and Detroit development agencies in April.

The theater development also is using part of a state brownfield tax credit of $2.2 million approved in 2007.

Previous construction included a 302-space parking structure, completed in 2009, and the rehabilitation of the two-story Blue Moon building.

Karl Henkel, The Detroit News