Renovating a nearly century old building almost always comes with a few surprises, as well as the uncovering of a storied past along the way; this project did not disappoint in either department. Located in Detroit’s Historic Brush Park, 42 Watson Street is a 9,580-square foot building originally built in 1923, filled with historical elements including a set of ten-foot tall, original wood carriage doors found buried in the front wall, original freight elevator hoist way equipment, as well as the original electrical fuse panel, and some lighting elements. Over the years, the building had many uses including a warehouse, indoor parking garage, mechanics shop, and more recently, it housed the residence and main art studio/gallery of an internationally recognized Detroit artist.
Premier Construction & Design competitively bid, and won the General Contracting opportunity for this project, but also had the opportunity to leverage its architectural staff, interior design staff, and engineering partners throughout the course of the project. Working closely with the building ownership, Premier provided extensive value engineering and design suggestions that included the reuse of uncovered historical building elements (mentioned above), as well as a comprehensive redesign of key building systems that has allowed for more efficient operation, and an overall increase in natural lighting, and occupant comfort.
As the project is an adaptive reuse, it involved both renovations and interior build-out work, including dividing the building into four suites. This required the need to reconfigure and add a new main entrance, install a large main stairway, add picture windows, as well as suite entrance and exit doors throughout. Additionally, a complete renovation of building utilities/infrastructure including new water and sewer main, as well as, upgraded multi-suite electrical and gas services was required.
The first floor was divided into two spaces and white boxed while the build-out of the second floor continued. This allowed building ownership to quickly secure tenants for the downstairs suites which now accommodate an office tenant and restaurant. Premier worked closely with building ownership as they negotiated lease terms with their tenants to ensure that the delivery of their spaces was consistent with the lease requirements. The second floor was also divided into two suites, both office spaces, with separate entrances. However, the second floor featured a complete interior build-out including incorporation of the discovered historical elements, exposed brick/block walls, open/exposed ceilings, as well as a shared center of the floor that includes a kitchen with an oversized island, restrooms, and a large lobby and conference area.