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Allan

Popular loft apartments grow in downtown Royal Oak

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Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Popular loft apartments grow in downtown Royal Oak

Citizens Bank is selling its branch and offices; a mixed-use project is in the works.

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By R.J. King / The Detroit News

ROYAL OAK - Loft apartments are clearly not just for starving artists anymore.

A new residential building project by Center Street Ventures LLC in Royal Oak will join more than five other loft projects under way or planned downtown. And lofts are popping in Detroit and other cities throughout Metro Detroit.

Citizens Bank is selling its bank branch and offices in downtown Royal Oak to Center Street, which plans to transform the property into a mixed-use project with lofts, offices and ground-floor commercial space.

Lofts, with bohemian features like exposed utility lines, floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies and minimal interior walls, generally attract younger buyers. The residential style dates to the 1950s, when cash-strapped artists converted older industrial structures into live-and-work spaces.

"The demand for urban lofts is strong and growing," said Don Nahat, managing member of Center Street Ventures and president of Huntington Real Estate Group in Royal Oak.

Nahat declined to reveal the sales price for the property, which covers nearly a square block bounded by Main, Second, Third and Center streets. "We're still putting all the plans together, but it will be a year or so before we start construction," he said.

Other loft projects have done well in the competitive Metro Detroit housing market. SkyLofts, a 68-unit project on Main Street in Royal Oak, sold out before it was completed this summer, while three other projects are reporting brisk sales.

Main North Lofts, an $80 million, three-tower project at 11 Mile and Main, reports about 65 of the 95 lofts in the first tower have been reserved. The project, to start shortly, includes a parking garage and around 15 stores and restaurants. It's scheduled to open in early 2006.

Citizens Bank said the loft trend will help its business. It'll soon start work on a new branch and offices at Main and Lincoln just a few blocks south of its current offices.

Thomas C. Shafer, regional president of Citizens Bank in Troy, said the new branch will provide more convenience and visibility to customers.

"It will be a prototype branch for us with interactive kiosks where customers can go on the Internet," Shafer said.

The Flint-based bank, which has 177 bank centers in Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, will open local branches in Orion Township and Walled Lake by February.

The bank plans to open three to four branches annually for the foreseeable future.

You can reach R.J. King at (313) 222-2504 or [email protected]

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 Sorry to bring up an old topic. I'm just curious if anyone has lived in this building (MAIN NORTH LOFTS). I'm considering renting one of the units and I want to be sure that it is a quiet place with decent build quality. If anyone has any opinions or has heard anything about the building please let me know. Thanks!

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