By Catherine Kavanaugh
Daily Tribune Staff Writer
Historic bank building ready for proposed beauty school
ROYAL OAK — The renovation of a former downtown bank building is nearing completion and a new tenant is waiting in the wings for city approval to open a cosmetology school and day spa.
The $4 million makeover of the city’s only Greek Revival building could be followed by the makeovers of Oakland County residents as Scott Weaver, co-owner and president of Douglas J. Aveda Institute, envisions his third location at the corner of Main and Fourth streets.
The institute provides students in Ann Arbor and Lansing with a learning environment that emulates upscale salons and customers get all the pampering at a reduced price. The site plan for Royal Oak calls for one large retail area for Aveda products, three classrooms, four spas, nine manicure/pedicure stations and 24 hair styling and coloring stations. Students also will give facials, hair waxings and massages.
Building owner David Strosberg is optimistic he is finally dealing with the right tenant after five years. National chain stores expressed interest in the stately building with ornate columns until lease talks covered historic issues with display windows and the challenge of turning the old bank vault into usable space.
In 2003, a restaurant called Small Plates won city approval — and the city’s 48th liquor license — but the operators couldn’t get the financing to make it happen. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar tried last year, but a different City Commission denied the liquor license in a 4-2 vote, saying the downtown doesn’t need another business serving alcohol.
The Plan Commission will have the final say on the Douglas J. Aveda Institute on April 12 because no liquor license is involved. In the meantime, Strosberg is finalizing the lease terms.
“They really want a Detroit-area presence,” he said of Weaver and his partner. “They’re looking for younger demographics and an active area and Royal Oak fits that.”
If plan commissioners OK the new building use, about $1 million of interior work will start to prepare the space for the salon, Strosberg said.
He is pleased with preservation steps taken to date, including a new roof, flashing to make the building water tight, tuck pointing, relocating the entrance to its original location and shipping out the clock for repair.
“It’s night and day compared to what it was,” Strosberg said.
Contractors also discovered the original lettering of Royal Oak Savings Bank under some false facade.
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