An announcement regarding the potential sale of a property located at 1800 18th Street in Corktown by Galapagos Detroit has confirmed that will not be the case for their large warehouse purchase- not a traditional one anyway. The development concept has evolved to a new real estate strategy where they will invite “artists, designers, makers and builders to own 20% of the building’s expected increase in property values in 10 years.” The art space revealed its relocation to Detroit from its Brooklyn roots in 2014, when Founder Robert Elmes purchased two properties- one in Highland Park and one in Corktown, that have been highly debated and anticipated from both local and national attention.The notable move was explained on the Galapagos Detroit website: “Simply put, New York City has become too expensive to continue incubating young artists. The white-hot real estate market burning through affordable cultural habit is no longer a crisis, it’s a conclusion. The canaries in New York City’s real estate gold mine – its young artists and thinkers – are no longer talking about the next show they hope to land. They’re talking about the next city they can land in once their current lease runs out.”
In an article from January 2016 in the Detroit Free Press, “Robert Elmes… responded that he had good reasons for putting the building up for sale… Elmes had purchased the warehouse at 1800 Eighteenth St. near Detroit’s Corktown district in late 2014, reportedly for about $500,000. He is now asking $6.25 million for it, according to his broker, A.J. Weiner.” The asking price sent local residents and speculators via social media into a frenzy at the time.
However, this is not the final decision. Instead a new concept has been announced, Commonwealth Detroit. According to a follow-up article from the Free Press, “…Elmes said the old industrial structure at 1800 18th Street will be known as CommonWealth or NestEgg. Artists and other tenants who rent space in the building will be eligible to receive a distribution of the increase in the building’s value in 10 years…” The article goes on to explain, “At that time, he’ll refinance and distribute 20% of the expected increase in property values to artists residing in the building, he said. In addition to artist work space, about 10 retail spaces are also planned. He also plans a cafe and a day-care center known as Galapagos Kids! as well as a merchandise display space where artists and craft workers can sell their wares.”
Keeping in mind the value that artists often bring with them as they move to areas that are usually undesirable or undeveloped, Elmes has a new vision for the future of real estate development: instead of disregarding those which bring vibrancy or early beautification to areas through the arts/cultural activities, it rewards them with a model that returns the initial investment, “to distribute 20% of the expected increase in property values to artists residing in the building.” (Free Press) The new Commonwealth Detroit website goes on to elaborate more details of the plans:
“The Project Will Be Leed Certified. There Will Be A Green Roof And A Rooftop Cafe, A Gorgeous, Light-Filled Cafe On The Ground Floor Will Spill Out Into The Courtyard Of The Building. Made-In-The-Building Mercantile / Retail Will Ring The Courtyard. Super Amazing, Fantastical Wi-fi, and a “Back To The Workforce” Daycare / Kindergarten That Helps Artists Or Entrepreneurial Mom’s And Dad’s Get Back Into The Work Force. Endowed By The Building. We’ll Offer On Site, High Quality, Low Cost Childcare.”
The public is invited to an open house on Saturday May 21st from 2-6pm at 1800 18th Street, Detroit, Michigan.
“In the end only one-thing matters: good artists and the best young thinkers follow ideas, and ideas flourish only when there is opportunity to realize them.” – Robert Elmes
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