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Corktown roundup: business booming on Michigan Avenue

Big things are happening over on Michigan Avenue in Corktown, as at least five new businesses plan to open their doors by the end of 2011.

Ryan Cooley, owner of O'Connor Realty and a force behind Corktown's commercial redevelopment, says he will move his office to make way for an expansion of the hugely popular Slows BarBQ. Crain's Detroit Business reports the Cooley brothers plan to add 1,500 sq. ft. of additional space to the restaurant, though Cooley called the expansion "preliminary" at this point.

There's much to do in the meantime, like helping Astro Coffee finish its build-out a few doors down at 4124 Michigan Ave. "It should be a month to a month-and-a-half away," Cooley says of the java shop's opening (check out their progress here.) The Cooleys also recently renovated two apartments above Astro Coffee and his realty office. "We put those up on Craigslist and rented them out within three days," he says.

Cooley also confirmed that the Mercury Burger Bar will open in the space which once housed Mercury Coffee. "He got his zoning approved," Cooley says of the owner, "so he should be opening by the end of this year." Other eateries coming to Corktown include a Coney Island at Michigan and Trumbull, a brick-oven pizza and Italian restaurant across Michigan Avenue from Nemo's; as well as the much-buzzed about Sugar House bar at 2130 Michigan Ave. While Cooley couldn't confirm a date for the classic cocktail lounge to begin pouring, word on the street says its doors will be open within two months.

The Cooley brothers are also excited about their next venture -- renovating the pawnshop west of Slows, also on Michigan Ave. "We're starting to kick around restaurant ideas for the first floor," he says. Six apartments will be built above the restaurant. "We put in a new roof and new windows," he says, "and Phil's putting in the flooring right now." While they wait on financing, they plan to build out the apartments to lease to artists in the area.

Source: Ryan Cooley, owner, O'Connor Realty
Writer: Ashley C. Woods
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