Shinola Hotel Brings New Life to Retail Center of Detroit
The signs of downtown Detroit’s rebirth are all around us. Every day we marvel at the new restaurants, renovated office spaces, busy retailers and, most of all, the people walking along streets that not too long ago were empty most hours of the day. We can count the new hotels dotting downtown Detroit, too, as another sign that the city center is in full rejuvenation mode. People want to visit, and stay in, downtown Detroit again. The arrival of several boutique hotels in the city’s urban core is proof of this.
Some of the new hotels here include the Detroit Foundation Hotel that opened in 2017 in the city’s former Fire Department headquarters; the Element Hotel in the Metropolitan Building, a building that had once been slated for demolition; and the Siren Hotel, which opened last year in downtown and is known for its onsite Candy Bar, an intimate hideaway which serves adult drinks.
A Unique Addition
One of the more intriguing of these new arrivals is the Shinola Hotel, a boutique hotel that opened in downtown Detroit in January. The hotel is a joint effort between Shinola, a homegrown manufacturer that specializes in high-end watches and leather goods, and Bedrock Detroit. It took about two years for construction crews to finish their work on the Shinola Hotel. And little wonder; this was a big project. Crews had to rehab Detroit’s old 1400 Woodward building, which once housed the T.B. Rayl & Co. sporting goods and hardware store, and a neighboring building that was once home to a Singer sewing machine shop.
That wasn’t all. Construction crews also demolished three neighboring buildings and built a new pedestrian alley way, all in an effort to create a new eating and shopping district in this slice of downtown. The site is now home to a hotel that feels like it belongs in Detroit: It boasts old-school architecture and plenty of classic touches. And though it only opened recently, it is already drawing visitors from all over the world to this part of downtown Detroit.
Edi Demaj, our Co-Founder and COO said, “We are proud to have partnered with Bedrock to provide the network and managed services and overall technology integration to this incredible project. Shinola’s guests and surrounding businesses will have the best information technology available anywhere.”
Dan Mullen, executive vice president of business development with Bedrock, said that the hotel is already giving visitors to Detroit, along with residents, another reason to flock to the central business district. “The hotel has exceeded our expectations,” Mullen said. “From our very first meeting on the project to seeing it open, it has been a great experience. We are completely blown away with the job everyone did on this hotel.”
The Shinola Hotel Provides Another Experience Visitors Can Enjoy
And in good news for the city, the hotel is far from the only new arrival to create positive buzz in downtown. Mullen said that retail and office tenants continue to move into downtown Detroit. New apartment units are opening in the city’s core, too. This activity is generating jobs, Mullen said, and that’s another positive for the city.
“We always think about how we can build not only world-class experiences but also do well by doing good. We can do that by adding properties to Detroit that not only draw people to the city but create jobs, too. That’s what the Shinola project has done,” Mullen said.
Of course, the Shinola isn’t just about hotel rooms, though it has added 129 of those to Detroit. The hotel also features restaurants and retailers, another boost to the urban core of Detroit. And its arrival has also inspired other retailers to open shop in the surrounding neighborhood.
Businesses open in the development include San Morello, the flagship restaurant for the Shinola Hotel. Chef Andrew Carmellini’s urban Italian restaurant is known for its wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas. The restaurant focuses on local ingredients and peppers its menu with seasonal fare.
Madewell, a women’s fashion retailer; Good Neighbor, a Detroit-based clothing shop that features name and independent brands; The Velvet Tower, a Detroit based vintage boutique; and fragrance maker Le Labo are also doing business from the hotel complex.
The Alley Running Behind the Shinola Hotel is Important, Too
It’s an example of what Mullen calls an activated alley, one dotted with restaurants and retail shops. The alley of the Shinola, dubbed Parker’s Alley after Thomas Park, one of Detroit’s first African-American landowners, will feature a brick walking pathway, warm lighting and music. “You could say I’ve become obsessed with alleys,” Mullen said. “We have been looking at alleys as opportunities not just for dumpsters and dark lighting, but for new opportunities. We want to create more space that people can use.”
Just recently opened is The Brakeman, a beer hall featuring a rotating roster or craft beer from across the Midwest, and Penny Red’s, a fried-chicken and biscuit restaurant. Shinola itself has opened its own retail location in the hotel, a shop selling the leather goods, watches and other luxury products that the company is known for. Other retailers in Parker’s Alley includes Posie Atelier, a florist, and local juice maker Drought. These businesses, along with Good Neighbor, all rely on the Internet service provided by Rocket Fiber.
Carli Goltowski, founder and owner of Good Neighbor, said that she’s excited by the activity in this part of downtown. Seeing so many businesses open, and so many more planning to open their doors, bodes well for the future of Detroit’s urban core, she said. “I knew that this was a great spot. I knew that my neighbors would be cool shops and restaurants and that the hotel would be beautiful. So it was a no-brainer to be here,” Goltowski said.
“Having shops and restaurants fill these buildings instead of them sitting here abandoned is a big deal. The city as a whole has come back alive. It looks like a real city again. It’s pretty amazing to see it all happen right before our eyes.” Goltowski said that the response to Good Neighbor and the other new retailers has been strong, with a steady stream of people hitting the area.
And the News Gets Even Better
Michigan-based Madcap Coffee Co has just made its debut to the area, serving exceptional flavors from around the globe. “It’s been exciting to see the businesses open one by one here,” Goltowski said. “It’s been great to see it all come together and the traffic start to build.”
The Shinola Hotel is certainly filling a need in downtown Detroit, but Mullen said that the city’s center needs even more hotel rooms. “We are still short on rooms,” Mullen said. “It is a supply-and-demand issue right now. There is not enough supply for all that demand. There is a demand for downtown Detroit from business and recreational travelers.”