The Detroit Bus Company
has officially made the move to Detroit after purchasing a 90,000-square-foot building at 3901 Christopher St. in Hamtramck that they are calling Eight & Sand, a term used in the 19th century to wish a steam locomotive conductors safe travels.
"The methodology around here, to borrow from Daniel Burnham, is make no small plans," says Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company. And 90,000 square feet of space certainly isn't small.
Eight & Sand will be used as a sort of business incubator meets entertainment complex. The industrial building was built in 1920 by the Gear Grinding Company and was turned over into a constant-velocity joints production facility in 1940. Cranes and other heavy machinery still remain from its days as a factory, and they're leaving it that way for the certain "ambiance" it gives to the place.
While there is still PLENTY of space to lease out, Eight & Sand already has several tenants. First is the Detroit Bus Company, which should go without saying. All DBC operations have been moved inside, including the vehicle fleet. "I always thought DBC needed to be in Detroit," Didorosi says. "Hamtramck is close enough! (It's) perfect; it's right in the middle of everything. We'll be successful here."
He also says that the building, along with its five acres of parking, was affordable and they are able to provide affordable space to tenants because of it. "We can cut through the red tape when renting space to people because it's ours." He wants the Eight & Sand businesses to be able to "get things done and hire the sh*t out of people," instead of wasting time and money dealing with corporate bureaucracy. "Immediately available space is pretty finite. Here we are going to make it easy." He jokes that if you wanted to open an industrial-scale bike manufacturing facility, you could do it tomorrow.
Eight & Sand is perfect for small businesses looking for big spaces. Pot & Box
, a semifinalist in the 2011 Hatch Detroit competition, will have a 4,000-square-foot event space inside (the Corktown retail storefront is still planned). Fowling Warehouse
will be the anchor tenant, occupying 40,000 square feet in the center of the building complete with a full bar and concert stage (with hopes of drawing in some big-name talent). Fowling Warehouse is nearly doubling its space from its previous location at 17501 Van Dyke St. (which the business moved out of earlier this year) and will have 30 lanes of "fowling" – football plus bowling.
Eight & Sand also houses a processing and storage space for Reclaim Detroit
and is providing free space to Sit On It Detroit
, a completely DIY effort to build and install benches for bus stops. Didorosi says they will provide free space for one tenant at a time that needs some help starting up. There is no limit on the amount of time the business can occupy the space. Didorosi says of Charles Molnar, founder of Sit On It Detroit, "Once he's big fish he'll move out (to somewhere bigger) and we'll give the space to someone else." Both of these tenants came with the building and are staying.
Eight & Sand will also have seven bays for food trucks to come and dock that come with power hookups, a wash bay, and an on-site commissary kitchen. Didorosi's long-term plan is to enable these trucks to vend indoors so they can continue running their businesses in the winter, which is a real challenge for mobile food vendors.
Space is still available for tenants with needs for large and slightly less large spaces. "We've got pretty specific requirements for the kind of businesses we want. We want to foster growth in terms of businesses that are going to grow the city."
Source: Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
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