This is Model D's guide to investing in Woodbridge. Also check out our guides to visiting and moving to the near-West Side neighborhood.
If you are considering an investment in Detroit’s historic Woodbridge
neighborhood — a triangular slice of the city’s near-West Side that
includes choice residential and industrial opportunities — consider the
investors who came before you.
Woodbridge was once the home of James E. Scripps and George G.
Booth, two publishing giants who were related by marriage. Scripps
owned an estate on Trumbull at Brainard St., while his son-in-law Booth
lived across the street, in a house that stood on the grounds of what
is now Scripps Park. David Stott, whose name is fixed to one of
downtown’s great pre-Depression skyscrapers, owned a flour mill at
Grand River and Warren.
Former Michigan Gov. G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams — who had designs on
running for president in 1960 until his friend John F. Kennedy entered
the race — grew up in a house on Commonwealth and Hancock. Detroit
Tigers Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, a social rascal who loved the nightlife
has much as he did slapping singles and stealing bases at old Navin
Field, owned a house on Commonwealth near Grand River.
colorful and accomplished characters, people who helped shape the
history of the region, populate Woodbridge history.
That history is also marked by community spirit and collective
effort, like when the neighborhood came together in the 1960s to
prevent a planned clearance of the entire area to make way for an
expansion of the university district west of Wayne State.
“It’s been the people who have made Woodbridge such an interesting place,” says Ed Potas of the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp.
“It was community resistance to a bad idea that helped change history
and preserve the neighborhood. That same independent spirit remains in
Past meets present
The neighborhood’s history — it is named for William Woodbridge, a 19th century territorial governor who owned a farm in the area — is part of what’s driving development now.
The beautiful, historic Victorian-era homes make This Old House
fans salivate; plus Woodbridge is home to some of the city’s coolest
galleries and attracts artists, musicians and university-types as
residents. Plus, its location (mere minutes from downtown, Wayne State
and the Cultural Center, Corktown’s nightlife and with easy access to
the freeways) makes Woodbridge a convenient place to live.
The history, art, culture and convenience have led to a boom in residential development in Woodbridge, and even a B&B.
The character of old Detroit can be seen at Scripps Park, which is earmarked for restoration, and up the street at the Woodbridge Star Bed & Breakfast,
a nationally registered historic site. Built in 1891 by the Northwood
brewing family, this three-story Victorian house at the corner of
Trumbull and Alexandrine St. combines the traditional with the modern —
it has fireplaces and private baths, a Jacuzzi and computer hook-ups.
Rates for rooms are $125-175, though extended stays will bring those
Past Woodbridge rehab projects have expanded options for loft or condo
living in the area. At the 5000 block of Commonwealth St. at Merrick
St., a former apartment building was converted into modern living
spaces. A 1,300-square foot-loft with one-bedroom, one-and-a-half baths
and garage sold for $147,000. The unit contains a fireplace, a
new kitchen, central air, solid hardwood floors, textured glass and
laundry in the unit.
Potas of the WNDC says that the rehabilitation of the building on
the north end of Woodbridge has helped stabilize the entire
“By beginning those projects it has given incentive for other
investors to jump into Woodbridge,” Potas says. “We need to continue to
work on all parts of the neighborhood, even further from the center of
Pride and joy
On the southeast side of the neighborhood, on grounds that once
contained the Jeffries Public Housing Projects — a massive residential
community once consisting of 13 high rise towers and three dozen
three-story apartment buildings — a mixed-income development has
brought new life back to the city.
is a $100 million residential village with over 100 single-family
houses, 245 apartments and a senior community with nearly 300 units.
Streets in the estates are named for Motown stars like the Contours,
Marvin Gaye and the Miracles.
Sixteen townhouse models were added to the mix, which included
homes with two- or three-bedrooms with 1,485- and 1,946-square-foot
floor plans, respectively. The units include two-car attached garage, a
balcony and nine-foot ceilings on the first floor, and are finished
with brick exteriors.
The Woodbridge Estates
properties start in the $180,000 range. Apartments in the Estates range
from $750 to around $1,150 per month.
Woodbridge is also home to a unique residential development project
custom made for the neighborhood. It is a collaborative effort between
the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture and the Architectural Salvage Company of Detroit, based in Woodbridge.
Students are designing a house with deconstructed materials provided by ASWD. Called Quilted Space: 4429 Avery,
the house will be built using glass windows, hardwood doors and
porcelain fixtures reclaimed from an historic mansion demolished near
Chicago. The Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp. donated the site
and is the project’s developer. Detroit’s Focus: HOPE is providing
warehousing space for the construction materials.
The house will offer ecologically-friendly features — like a
rainwater collection unit that could eventually be used as part of a
solar water heating system — and will be landscaped with
low-maintenance vegetation native to the region. It will have a
second-floor balcony that can be enclosed to create an additional
bedroom, increasing the size of the interior from 1,640 to 1,715 square
At a recent project review held at UDM, Greg Donnelly of the WNDC
said that the design is intended to be “reproducible … We want to do
this 20 times, not just once.”
In fact, a master plan calls for 24 vacant lots in Woodbridge to be
prepped for housing as part of the Quilted Space project. Another
partner in the project is the Detroit Collaborative Design Center,
headed by UDM’s School of Architecture professor Daniel Pitera.
Pitera said he is excited about the project because it takes “the
design work done by students in the studio and converts it into the
real experience” of seeing houses get built.
Carolyn Mosher, president and founder of www.ASWDetroit.org,
said she was “deeply impressed by the enthusiasm and vision of the
architecture students. This is a perfect example of the mission of the
Architectural Salvage Warehouse: saving trees, preserving historic
elements so they continue to live in the community and reducing
Stephen Vogel, the dean of the UDM’s School of Architecture, called the design of the house “fabulous.”
so much residential development complete, under way and in the
pipeline, and so much interest in living in Woodbridge, there’s also
room for other types of businesses — like restaurants, bars, shops, and
other services to cater to residents.
Woodbridge is also home to galleries — like 555, 4731 and CAID — so coffee shops, bars - such as the soon-coming Woodbrige Pub on the ocrner of Trumbull and Merrick - or boutiques that could cater to the art crowd would also be a good fit.
And, neighbors say more rooftops are always welcome.
Potas of the community development corporation says that Woodbridge has room for 200 more new houses.
“We think this is just the beginning,” Potas says. “People think of
residential Woodbridge has just Avery and Commonwealth, but we are
thinking much bigger. We’ve got some momentum now, and we want to keep
Directions to Woodbridge
From the East:
Take I-94 West and take Exit 214
toward Grand River Ave/Linwood Ave. Stay straight to go onto Edsel Ford
Fwy West, and then turn left onto Linwood St. Turn slight left onto
Grand River Ave and arrive in Woodbridge.
From the North:
Take I-75 South and merge onto
I-94 West via Exit 53B toward Chicago. Take Exit 214 toward Grand River
Ave/Linwood Ave. Stay straight to go onto Edsel Ford Fwy West, and then
turn left onto Linwood St. Turn slight left onto Grand River Ave and
arrive in Woodbridge.
From the West:
Take I-96 East and take Exit 190B
toward Warren Ave. Stay straight to go onto West Jefferies Fwy. Turn
left onto Warren Ave to Grand River Ave. Arrive in Woodbridge.
From the South:
Take I-94 East toward Detroit.
Take Exit 214A toward Grand River Ave and stay straight to go onto
Edsel Ford Fwy West. Turn right onto Grand River Ave and arrive in
Take I-75 North toward Detroit. Merge onto I-96 West via Exit 48 on
the left toward Lansing. Take Exit 190B toward Warren Ave. and stay
straight to go onto W Jefferies Fwy. Turn right onto Warren Ave and
arrive in Woodbridge.
Woodbridge Estates Homes
Woodbridge Star Bed and Breakfast Sitting Room Looking towards the Greenhouse
Woodbridge Star Bed and Breakfast
Bonnie Bridge Villa
4731 Gallery and Artist Lofts
All Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger