Hostels attract people from all walks of life. They can be in sections of cities or towns tourists might otherwise miss. Their rooms can be chic or eclectic. In short, their price tags are alluring and they open up cities to more than just the typical tourist.
For the past year, Emily Doerr’s been working with her partner, Ashley Woods, to bring just such a hostel to life in North Corktown. “We’re starting small with 14 bunk beds and a queen size for couples. We’ll see where to go from there,” she says, pointing out they are renovating the bottom floor first.
Want eclectic? The bed frames are constructed out of repurposed doors. “We want to put curtains around them to give people some more privacy,” says Emily.
It’s not just the hostel itself that will intrigue travelers. It’s also in great location.
“It’s about more than the hostel. I’m excited to be involved in the bigger community happening in Corktown,” she says. “Brother Nature is our neighbor, and Soup at Spaulding is right next to us, too. Rachel’s place, the Lager House, and Slow’s are all within walking distance.”
Sugar House, a craft cocktail bar, is set to open down that way, and I’ve been hearing rumors about a coffee shop as well.
Getting the hostel ready for guests is no easy task. The building is under continuous renovation and its reconstruction is moving along quickly. On my last trip there I didn’t even recognize the basement, having seen it a few weeks before at my Detroit Massage and Wellness appointment.
Some of this extraordinary transformation was done by the Young Detroit Builders group, recently featured on the TV show Secret Millionaire. Other groups are coming to help build, paint and otherwise fix the building up. Students from McGill University in Montreal, Walter College in Asheville and the University of Detroit Mercy are there. Kids from United Way are staying in the hostel and volunteering as well, painting murals inside the building.
Emily and Ashley have had no shortage of helping hands.
“This effort is 100% volunteer driven. I still have my day job,” Emily says with a smile. She also works at Southwest Solutions.
There will be renovation tweaks after the official opening planned for April 17th. Emily’s open to a lot that could happen with the space, knowing it’s difficult to gauge its initial reception.
The second floor of the building could be used as hostel space just like the first floor. Or it could be a short-term, furnished apartment or housing for the hostel staff or something else entirely.
You can contribute too. The hostel project is currently on Crowd Rise, a website that helps people raise money for their projects and small business ideas.
With all the ingenuity in their work so far, and the open-ended potential in their future, this is a story that you’re going to want to follow. Their grand opening is free and open to everyone. Be sure to RSVP and check it out on April 17.