The former training center of the legendary Joe Louis will be reinvented as a restaurant. The Brewster Wheeler rec center has been scheduled for demolition after nearly a decade of vacancy. It wasn’t until the Duggan administration suggested it should be saved because of its historical and cultural significance. Upon approval, $37 million will be funneled into a project that will transform the building from its current state of neglect into a restaurant that will preserve pieces of the building’s history and create new residential and retail spaces in the surrounding area.
The rec center-turned-restaurant will host more than just delectable food. Of course, there will be space for the dining area, but there will also be a rooftop beer garden. Additionally, there will be event spaces and offices for extracurricular activities like the Detroit City Chess Club, a weekly bike riding group called Slow Roll, and Alternatives for Girls.
The projected cost of the redevelopment of the rec center is $15 million which will be split between several different investors. The rest of the projected $37 million will be put to good use by developers John Rhea and the Schostak Brothers & Co. who will be building 150 units of residential housing, community, and retail space. Jenkins Construction, a Detroit-based contractor, will be working on both of these projects.
This is a project that will not only revitalize a piece of Detroit history, 51 percent of the construction and contracting jobs will be reserved for Detroit residents. Additionally, the restaurant that will inhabit the old rec center will have to hire at least 40 percent of its workers locally. That number will increase for 70 percent over the next four years.
Mayor Mike Duggan summed up the project best at a news conference on Tuesday, “A building that’s been vacant for 10 years that everybody had given up n is now going to be reborn for another generation f Detroiters.”