Judy Rose Column

By Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

The prime Royal Oak corner of Fourth and Main streets will be the site of a new eight-story high-rise full of loft condos called the Skylofts.

The Skylofts will combine classic wide-open loft-style units with luxury interiors that include granite countertops, Grohe faucets, Eurostyle pendant lights and gas fireplaces.

The location is in the heart of the entertainment-dining-shopping core of downtown Royal Oak.

The first units will be ready in fall 2004. Meanwhile, a decorated model loft will open in the next-door building on July 13. Until then you can visit the model during pre-opening hours.

To create the effect of high-rise living, the earth-bound model has large artificial windows that are really back-lighted boxes that show large photos of the view from a high floor.

Prices at the Skylofts will start in the $220,000s for a center unit at about 945 square feet — one bedroom, 1 1/2 baths, with large glass windows at one end and a balcony off the master bedroom.

They’ll go to $410,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath corner unit of 1,555 square feet, with a terrace and windows along two sides.

That’s a hearty $225-$265 per square foot, roughly double the price of a single-family house in a medium-priced metro Detroit suburb.

But it’s less than the closest similar urban condos — several new mid-rise buildings going up in downtown Birmingham, about 5 miles north on Woodward. There, the prime location and amenities put condo prices as high as $400 per square foot.

At Skylofts, buyers can also combine units to create a larger condo, says David Strosberg, president of Chicago-based Morningside Group, which is the developer. These double units will cost in the $500,000s and $600,000s.

At Skylofts, some of the other standard features will be 10-foot-high ceilings, exposed duct work and curved walls, says Strosberg. Deeded indoor parking is available.

The building will include a fitness center, a secure bike storage room, large storage lockers, barrier-free access and an instant hot water system. The foyer, living, dining and kitchen areas will have hardwood floors. Bathrooms have floors and tub surrounds of ceramic tile and vanity tops of cultured marble.

Appliances include an 18-cubic-foot refrigerator with ice maker, gas range, microwave and stacked washer and dryer. Kitchens also have an island with a breakfast bar.

The Skylofts will be eight stories tall, with retail space at the ground level. It’s all new construction, not a renovation — part of a project that spans two blocks of downtown Royal Oak, from Fourth to Sixth Street and from Main Street to Center Street.

The other large component is Main Place, a retail project that combines new construction with renovation of a 1920s Greek-classic-style bank building and a former warehouse.

Main Place is being built in four phases. A Barnes and Nobel bookstore will open there July 3. Other businesses to follow include a gourmet bread store, a home fitness equipment store and a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar. Construction will cover several years. The project will cost about $45 million.

You can view the Skylofts model today through July 11 during pre-opening hours. Those are noon-8 p.m. Friday and 11-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Beginning July 12, hours will be 1-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 1-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 11-5 Saturday and Sunday. Closed Wednesdays.

To leave your name for more information, phone 248-541-5638, during those hours. Or visit www.skyloftsroyaloak.com.

Contact Judy Rose at 313-222-6614 or rose@freepress.com.

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