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Somerset Collection opens in Downtown Detroit

Part trunk show, part indoor bazaar and sometimes a dash of street fair, the Somerset Collection is coming Downtown. The CityLoft project is set to open for weekend shopping this Thursday and Friday (July 28 and 29), 10 am to 7 pm, and Saturday (July 30) 10 am to 6 pm.

There are 41 different retailers in the Merchants Row space at 1441 Woodward Ave., which seems to be a very representative sample of what Somerset has to offer. “Some retailers are geared toward workers down here,” says Edward Nakfoor of the Somerset Collection, gesturing toward Brookstone’s display. You can also check out kids’ clothes, legos, high end bags and a multitude of other terrific, and sometimes rare, merchandise. One sweater we looked at was one of only 300 available worldwide.

Like the Detroit Shoppe’s efforts, a goal of the CityLoft project is to introduce those unfamiliar with the city to its cultural gems.

Ten Cadillac Escalades are set to shuttle guests from CityLoft to city landmarks.

  • Thursday and Friday between 11 am and 7 pm: There will be stops at Coleman A. Young Municipal Building, Compuware Building, One Woodward, Renaissance Center, DTE Energy, Westin Book Cadillac and the Fillmore.
  • Saturday between 10 am and 4 pm: There will be stops at MGM Grand Detroit Casino, Motor City Casino, Athenuem Hotel, The Fillmore, Detroit Gold Club, Detroit Yacht Club and the Boston Edison neighborhood’s Voight Park.

“The timing is right for this,” Nakfoor says. “There is a lot of momentum here and the vision we had fit in perfectly with the Merchants Row lofts.”

Bob Hoida is the head architect for the project. Under his direction, the storefront went from what he calls a “vanilla box” to chandeliers dripping from the ceiling, deep purple walls and intricate, flowery decals winding across them.

Renovating the building was sometimes more a process of uncovering than constructing. When they removed the dry wall, they found these spectacular stone columns, with several layers of paint chipping through.

“They were so beautiful, we decided to just leave them,” Hoida explains. Like so many other rehabilitation efforts in the city, the design in this building combines old and new as well as upscale and raw elements. These columns remain anchors in the building’s history … A history that I hope repeats itself as more retail returns to fill the empty storefronts Downtown.

This is exactly what Somerset is trying to make happen. “We’re a model home for retail ideas,” Nakfoor says. “CityLoft is an experiment. Hopefully, other local retailers will get curious and think about moving Downtown.

“We need a healthy heart for the whole region,” he says. “So the building won’t sit dark between weekends.”

Lulu Lemon is joining in and holding a sidewalk yoga class this Thursday (July 28), 11 am – 1 pm, and there will be more events to come. The schedule will be available at CityLoft’s opening.

As it has with the Detroit Shoppe, Somerset will donate portions of CityLoft’s proceeds to Detroit charities. Somerset’s most recent donation was to the Greening of Detroit. While they have other ideas of who to give to next, they’re working closely with Mayor Dave Bing in choosing the next recipient.

Photo credit: Karpov the Wrecked Train

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