The Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood saw some success with activating vacant storefronts earlier this year during their
June on Jefferson pop-ups
. Local developers Shelborne Development
renovated several vacant buildings, then the Jefferson East Business Association
(JEBA) in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Urban Priorities Committee activated them with several lifestyle pop-up concepts to attract people from outside the neighborhood to the area and also to serve the people in the neighborhood.
Now JEBA is introducing the Storey Commons, a new pop-up storefront in one of the previous pop-up locations that will serve as a community library of books.
"In my time here at JEBA, in speaking with folks from the community, I found people are really looking for the types of amenities that make their community more liveable," says Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at JEBA. They want places like sit-down cafés and bookstores where they can connect with other members of the community.
Storey Commons is a place where people can bring a book or borrow a book. Made to look like a bookstore, the space was designed by architect Mike Styczynski and his team at Midwest Design, who had worked on the original pop-up spaces over the summer. Books were donated by a cohort of community residents in Jefferson-Chalmers and Grosse Pointe Park during the inaugural meeting of AlterGather
, a new community organization gathering residents of the East Riverfront neighborhoods to have conversations about how the community divide can be bridged. The first-ever meeting was held at Coffee and (______)
, a coffeeshop and bakery located next to Storey Commons. Peter Ruffner, owner Detroit-based publishing company OmniGraphics
, also provided substantial book donations.
"We got more books than I expected," Harrison says. "So many folks came out to give books that love the idea, the concept and what it could mean for community development."
On the other side of Storey Commons is another new pop-up, the Jeff Chalmers Pop-Up Gallery, curated by local artist Halima Cassells featuring artwork from area residents. Harrison says that the whole project is made possible by the generosity of Shelborne Development, which owns the properties and has allow JEBA to use the spaces for the pop-ups.
These pop-up projects are a cross-community collaboration made successful only by the number of separate groups involved with and supporting them, from the developer to area economic development organizations to nearby residents.
"It's all about helping to rebuild the community," Harrison says. "My hope is that this encourages the possibilities in the neighborhood for the vacant commercial storefronts we have and encourages revitalization and the opportunity for someone to see this and want to bring this type of business to the community (permanently)."
There is no official end date for the Storey Commons pop-up, but the space is available for a permanent tenant.
Source: Ritchie Harrison, Economic Development and Policy Director at Jefferson East Business Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg