Young professionals at SkyLofts MarketSquare in Royal Oak have discovered they can afford an exciting, contemporary loft as their first home, in a region whose quality of life, low cost of living and promising job market are well-kept secrets.
Take Michael Smith, 24, a quality expert and representative for Basic Rubber Plastics, a Walled Lake firm providing gaskets, “O” rings and seat assemblies for military and commercial vehicles. He grew up in metro Detroit, attended Denison University, and considered other markets, but “it was much more expensive to get what I was looking for. I wanted something fairly new. I’ve always liked to have outdoor space – a porch or balcony to go outside and barbecue. In Chicago and New York it was available – for a very high price.” At SkyLofts MarketSquare, he and his friends spend summer evenings on his 300-square-foot terrace.
“I was looking to move into a big city environment, and live someplace centrally located, but I’m also a big golfer and I love the water.” He often tees it up at Rackham Golf Course in Huntington Woods, just minutes from his home.
Three out of four Americans under the age of 28 said a cool city is more important than a good job,” says Next Generation Consulting of Madison, Wis. They seek culture and nightlife, higher education opportunities, short commutes to work and recreation.
“Young professionals are always looking for something new and exciting,” said Christianne Sims, director of Fusion Detroit, the young professionals & entrepreneurs group at the Detroit Regional Chamber. “They want something different. Detroit can give that to them. No matter where you go you can find something that will meet your needs, and at the right price point. You don’t have to sacrifice size.”
Lofts at MarketSquare range in size from 1,200 to more than 2,100 square feet. Amenities include granite countertops, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, gas fireplaces, furniture-quality cabinets, a fully-equipped fitness center and a heated garage. Located at 101 Curry Ave., the building is two blocks east of Main Street, within walking distance of cafes, restaurants and shopping but away from Main Street traffic and noise.
While MarketSquare buyers range along the demographic spectrum, including retirees, corporate relocators, professional athletes and mid-careerists, the close-out pricing and favorable down payment options are especially appealing to first-time buyers. They can get more space and luxury features than they ever imagined, according to New Homes Manager Michelle Harrier.
Erin Bialas, 31, went to Loyola University in Chicago, gaining firsthand knowledge of the difference in housing opportunities. She is a guidance counselor in the Detroit Public Schools.
“When I moved from Chicago, the rent decreased by half and the space increased by half,” she said. Her brother lived in a Chicago condominium in a less safe and accessible area. He had two cars, and had to park one “a mile away,” Bialas said.
She grew up in Michigan and wanted to stay close to family in this area. She chose Wayne State University for graduate school over opportunities in Chicago.
“Chicago is a good place to visit,” she said. “It’s very big, but now I like more intimate settings, as opposed to having to walk two miles to find my car and paying $20 to park downtown just to go shopping for an hour and a half. I like Royal Oak because it gives me a feeling of Chicago. It gave me the outdoor cafes for summer and the original restaurants, without the saturation of cars and traffic. It’s ideal for me; I can just walk.”
Daily headlines about changes in the auto industry obscure the fact that good jobs await. “Total employment in the region is 2.7 million. That’s a lot of jobs,” said Jim Rogers, data center manager for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. “There are tremendous opportunities for anybody who is well qualified and has potential or experience in any particular profession,” he said.
“The auto industry is our filter,” Rogers said.
“It’s the big industry that has made this place grow and made it well-off economically. If you look at all the other sectors of the economy, there are some that are growing and others that will shrink a bit over time.” But we have a large metropolitan area here and, over time, employment will increase.”
In fact, the unemployment rate currently in metro Detroit for those with a college degree or better has improved to just 2 percent, according to Kurt Metzger, research director for United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Success for that group depends on the nature of their degree. Both Rogers and Metzger agree that the health care sector will experience the greatest growth.
Several of MarketSquare’s loft owners are physicians, including Christine Climie, 30, who works as a family practice physician in a Southgate clinic affiliated with the Oakwood Healthcare System. When the Wayne State University graduate completed her residency in Chicago she came back to metro Detroit “looking for as much of a city life as I could get.” Condo living in general suits Climie, who gladly does without yard work and shoveling. But specific features attracted her to MarketSquare. Her loft has a larger terrace than she saw anywhere else in Royal Oak. She often uses the well-equipped workout room.
Founded in 1993, Morningside Group is a real estate development firm that specializes in creating premier mixed-use and multifamily developments in urban locations throughout the Midwest. Long recognized as a leader in the design and construction of highly acclaimed buildings, Morningside Group has built an enviable track record of successful public-private partnerships.
Morningside’s work ensures that each new development will join a growing portfolio of prized buildings which includes, in Michigan, SkyLofts Royal Oak, and Liberty Lofts in Ann Arbor and, in Illinois, Arbor Court and Prairie Town Center in Oak Lawn, Crescent Court and Museum Square in Elmhurst, Morningside Square in Downers Grove, The Glen Astor in Glen Ellyn and buildings in Evanston and Skokie.
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