New Corktown restaurant planned for 130-year-old rebuilt barn
The project Scott Lowell and Carolyn Howard are working on, by comparison, seems quaint and low-tech. Yet they’ve got something most other developers don’t have: a building that is unique, authentic and funky.
Lowell and Howard plan to reassemble a 130-year-old barn on their property at 14th and Dalzelle in Corktown, one block east of Michigan Central Station, and turn it into a restaurant and event space.
But not just any barn, but a barn with deep emotional connections — it’s from a dairy farm in Alto, outside Grand Rapids, where Howard’s father grew up and she played as a child.
“My grandmother would be tickled pink about this project,” Howard said.
Lowell and Howard own the land and the barn, but the project still faces questions about zoning and, possibly, style. While the barn’s quirky, rural, old-school mojo could redefine farm-to-table cuisine in Detroit and make it a popular destination, it’s not known what the new player on the block, Ford Motor Co., feels about an antique barn next to its closely watched train station project, on which it is expected to spend millions.
A spokeswoman for Ford Land did not respond to requests for comment.
Lowell and Howard are married. They grew up in Detroit and own the landmark Traffic Jam & Snug restaurant and several Midtown residential buildings. One of their properties is the 113-year-old Forest Arms apartments, at Second and Forest. After it was largely destroyed by a 2008 fire, Lowell and Howard purchased the building and spent $11 million on renovation. Its 70 units are full today.
“The Forest Arms gave us the confidence to do the barn,” Lowell said.
The barn was disassembled and trucked to Detroit in 2014, the year they purchased the property, which for decades was the site of St. Vincent Catholic School, which was demolished years ago. The timber remains in storage.