The quality, look and feel of old construction materials — not to mention the stories these remnants tell of another era — are attracting the interest of entrepreneurs and others setting up shop in Detroit.
“It makes us feel much more connected to the city,” said Kevin Borsay, co-owner of the recently renovated Stella Good Coffee in the Fisher Building in Midtown. Borsay and his partners used 100-year-old wood from a home on Cadillac Boulevard for the coffee shop’s countertops.
“It’s like (having) a piece of Detroit history,” he said.
While not a new industry, the popularity of reclaimed wood and other materials from Detroit has spiked in the past few years, thanks to the creation of a nonprofit that makes them easily accessible.
Founded in 2011, Reclaim Detroit — a branch of the WARM Training Center, which promotes green jobs and sustainable housing — has dismantled about 15 homes in the city and Wayne County. The materials — from wood and bricks to doorknobs and windows — are stored in a 6,000-square-foot warehouse on Oakman Boulevard in Detroit.
The salvaged wood has been used in bars and restaurants in Midtown, Corktown and downtown. Companies from Birmingham, Ann Arbor, Woodhaven and other suburbs have bought materials, too.
Even billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert is pining for old Detroit wood. He tapped Reclaim Detroit for a project under construction at the Dime building — now called Chrysler House, said Bob Chapman, executive director of Reclaim Detroit.
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