734 Brewing Company’s purpose is to bring great beer to forgotten communities. (734 Brewing Co. photo)

A Black-owned brewery will set up shop in the West McNichols commercial corridor in Detroit’s Bagley/Fitzgerald neighborhood, where a large-scale effort is underway to revive housing, public space and businesses. 

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The brewery will be the anchor tenant of an 8,000-square-foot building at 7400 W. McNichols, a property that’s undergone extensive renovation after being empty for decades. The planned tap room will be operated by Brian Jones-Chance, a Ypsilanti-based real estate broker, CEO of Ypsilanti Hay Press Co. and majority owner of  734 Brewing Co.  Jones-Chance described 734 Brewing as Michigan’s “first Black-owned brewery,” which opened in 2018.  There’s at least one more Black-owned brewery in the state, Grand Rapids’ Black Calder Brewing Co., which debuted in 2020. 

“One of the things about Ypsi is, much like Detroit, it’s sort of gentrifying, but there’s not a lot of local control,” Jones-Chance said during a Wednesday evening meeting sponsored by the nonprofit Live6 Alliance.  “While I’m not a local, I think it’s important people are sensitive to that and understand it and maybe have experience with it themselves.”

One of the only Black-owned breweries in the state will be the main tenant of a new development at 7400 W. McNichols. (Speramus Partners rendering)

The brewing company is going to be the main tenant in the building and is seeking other retailers, such as restaurants and other small local shops to rent part of the space, Jones-Chance said. 

The building is locally owned by Speramus Partners LLC, an entity that includes Detroit developer Chase L. Cantrell and Jason Headen. Cantrell is an attorney and founder of Building Community Value Detroit, a program that teaches residents how to become neighborhood developers. 

Speramus Partners bought the West McNichols building for $208,000 in 2019, property records show. 

“It was in terrible shape,” Cantrell said during the Wednesday meeting. “There was flooding, the roof was caved in, there was structural damage to the walls.” 

Work on the building is expected to be finished by the end of  this year, Cantrell said. The seller of the building was Invest Detroit, a financial lender, investor and partner focusing on Detroit neighborhood redevelopment. 

Speramus Partners, an entity that includes Detroit developer Chase L. Cantrell and Jason Headen, is looking to add additional retailers to the West McNichols project. (Speramus Partners)

Invest Detroit and Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the quasi-public agency that promotes development in the city, are also the financial lenders, Cantrell said.  

The building is one of three buildings on West McNichols where renovations are in the works, said Dr. Geneva Williams, executive director of Live6 Alliance. The others are 7316 W. McNichols, which is expected to have a pizzeria, and there are plans for commercial and residential at 7303 W. McNichols, Williams said. 

Live6 Alliance also announced Wednesday a new round of streetscape improvements planned by the City of Detroit for West McNichols. 

The area is part of a major campaign called the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, which  involves the City, foundations and private investments to restore potentially hundreds of single-family homes and other properties, revive commercial corridors and overhaul public spaces such as parks. To get sense of that effort, go to this City link, or this one that explains the plan to revitalize 10 neighborhoods. 

Louis Aguilar is BridgeDetroit’s senior reporter. He covered business and development for the Detroit News, and is a former reporter for the Washington Post.

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