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DETROIT-A Southfield-based real estate company sees new life ahead for a Detroit shopping center. First Commercial Realty & Development Co. Inc. in Southfield has purchased The Shops at Lafayette Park on Detroit’s east side for an undisclosed sum.

The 60,000-sf shopping center at Lafayette and Orleans streets had been slated for demolition to make room for a condominium development that had been planned by the center’s previous owner, The Habitat Co. of Chicago. Habitat also owns two high-rise apartment buildings, Lafayette Towers, next to the shopping center. Habitat will use proceeds from the sale to upgrade air conditioning, landscaping and other amenities at the 600-unit apartment complexes.

“Beyond its appeal as an economically attractive real estate investment, there were many compelling reasons for rescuing this shopping center from the wrecking ball,” says William Watch, president of First Commercial Realty & Development Co. “As a component in the Mies van der Rohe District, The Shops at Lafayette Park has significant value as a historically important architectural structure, and as one of a limited number of shopping venues in the area, it provides much needed, basic retail services to local residents.”

Construction on The Shops at Lafayette Park, located south of Lafayette Blvd., two blocks east of Interstate 375, is already underway.

Improvements will include a new roof, new HVAC system, windows, exterior storefronts and other interior upgrades. A nearby, two-story, 14,000-sf office building is also being demolished to make way for a 211-space parking lot.

Additionally, First Commercial said it plans to completely renovate and improve the pedestrian plaza within the shopping center.

First Commercial will lease and manage the center, which will be completed in September. About 30% of the available space has been pre-leased. Box Seat Video and Dollar Daze have signed leases, and negotiations are underway with a bank, a dentist, a hair salon and a fitness center. Two existing tenants, Sali Thai and Paris Café, will return to the shopping center.

The Habitat Co. told the city economic department it is considering a plan to build as many as 30 condominiums around the renovated shopping center, with starting prices around $250,000.

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