Abandoned Detroit townhouses transformed into beautiful apartments in $4.6M renovation

Developers aimed to eliminate a dangerous eyesore while retaining the building’s historic character

click to enlarge The 106-year-old building was renovated with the goal of retaining its historic character in Hubbard Farms in Detroit. - Brett Mountain, courtesy of Concetti
Brett Mountain, courtesy of Concetti
The 106-year-old building was renovated with the goal of retaining its historic character in Hubbard Farms in Detroit.

For nearly 20 years, the row of abandoned, red-brick townhouses in Detroit’s Hubbard Farms neighborhood was a dangerous eyesore.

Today, the 106-year-old building, known as The Murray, is fully renovated, and each of the 12 units is occupied with renters.

The project to revitalize the historic building began in September 2020 after a group of teenagers told Mayor Mike Duggan that they felt unsafe walking past the crumbling townhouses on their way to school.

The $4.6 million renovation was led by the developer, Detroit native W. Emery Matthews of Real Estate Interests LLC, and Concetti, a Detroit-founded interior design strategy studio. Rockford Construction was the construction manager.

The goal was to retain the building’s historic character.

Located at 4004 Porter St., a block from Clark Park, the townhouses feature exposed brick and blue and green colorways blended between floors, with custom wallpaper sourced by Detroit Wallpaper Co. Whenever possible, the original hardwood floors were kept, and the building’s original molding was painted a stark black.

click to enlarge The Murray features exposed brick and blue and green colorways blended between floors. - Brett Mountain, courtesy of Concetti
Brett Mountain, courtesy of Concetti
The Murray features exposed brick and blue and green colorways blended between floors.

“This project focused on keeping and enhancing the authenticity of the historic building, to not only restore its rightful place as a community landmark, but to create a safe and functional space for Detroit families to live,” Rachel Nelson, Concetti CEO and principal designer, said in a news release Thursday. “Through Concetti’s three-phase strategic process, we focused on the people who would live in the building and how they would utilize it, while also prioritizing Matthews’ values. Our human-centric approach allowed us to create a contemporary interior aesthetic that appeals to the current market while showcasing the community’s spirit and resilience.”

The renovated building first opened in July 2021, and is now at full capacity.

“The best property redevelopment is one that tells a story that draws threads from the past in order to weave a narrative that foretells the future,” Matthews said. “Concetti was a critical part of this narration, providing artistry and insight that made sure The Murray’s hundred-year history was a source of strength and inspiration instead of a constraint. Their design work beautifully captured the dialogue between past and future that is the core element of (our) Real Estate Interests, LLC’s redevelopment projects.”

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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