New construction live/work options were recently introduced to the Detroit metro area. Ann Arbor has a notable new loft development that offers true single-unit live/work options. Kingsley Lane provides retail and office space on Ashley Street, near Kerrytown. The live/work units provide a storefront with signage opportunities, a customer entrance, a workspace, and a separate sleeping area. The market for live/work is not restricted to artists--although a Kingsley Lane would be a fabulous location for a gallery.
Purchasers are doctors, entrepreneurs, architects. Some purchasers will utilize the bedroom as a private office and forgo the living option; others will utilize the space for living and working. Think about who would benefit most from a live/work space: An entrepreneur with a boutique retail operation or a service-based professional/business owner with a small support team—such as an architect, bookkeeper, graphic designer, realtor, web designer, or writer. Who else? These individuals benefit from retail exposure, and since the owner/proprietor usually runs the shop, client privacy issues are not much of a concern, since conversations will most likely be held one-on-one, without the chance of eavesdropping.
Another Ann Arbor project that could be utilized as live/work is Liberty Lofts at Liberty and First Street. This project is a more typical model of how live/work is presented in suburban Detroit—one could live in a loft condominium in a mid-rise tower, and work in a retail bay attached to the building. I think this type of live/work development could be made more marketable if the retail box were designed or adapted to service smaller retail and entrepreneurs. I predict that we will soon see this new type of ‘proximate live/work’ product offering in Southeastern Michigan as entrepreneurial ventures increase and residents’ reliance on corporate employment decreases.
On Monday, we will ‘tour’ The District Lofts in Birmingham’s emerging Rail District.