on August 13, 2015 at 1:15 PM, updated August 13, 2015 at 4:58 PM
Developer Stewart Beal announced he’s purchasing the former “Club Divine Building” at 17 N. Washington St. in downtown Ypsilanti.
The former bar and music venue will reopen as an alcohol-free dance club marketed to college students.
Beal says he plans to close on a deal to buy the property for $110,000 on Friday. It has sat vacant since the Savoy nightclub abruptly shut down in 2010, and the building was originally listed for $1 million in 2011 as part of a package for it and the neighboring Pub 13 property.
“I’ve been working on it for two years, watching the price come down, and evaluating it,” Beal said. “I didn’t want to buy it as a speculative endeavor. I wanted to buy it and at same time bring in businesses, and that’s we achieved here.”
The club, called Club 3GO (pronounced “ego”), will use around 6,000 square feet of the building’s main floor. An unnamed “Ypsilanti food entrepreneur” plans to lease 3,500 square feet of the building’s first and second floors, and Beal said he is considering options for the remaining 6,000 square feet of the second floor and 6,000 square feet of basement space.
Club 3GO’s owners, three 20-year-old Eastern Michigan University students, are targeting Sept. 5 for their grand opening and are only making minor cosmetic improvements like putting down new floors. The building also needs minor work to be brought up to code, Beal says, and he and the group are investing around $50,000 to complete those projects. Rent will be $5,000 per month.
“It was a bar the day it closed and there actually isn’t very much work to reopen as the exact same concept,” Beal said.
But the Club 3GO concept is slightly different than Club Divine’s first and foremost in that it won’t serve alcohol. The owners also plan to create a space specifically for EMU students and will work with the university in their marketing efforts.
In plans supplied to Beal, the owners stated that they believe Ypsilanti’s nightlife is geared toward an older crowd and lacking in a “college town” feel. They plan to create a “safe and natural” environment fashioned after the Necto in Ann Arbor, but with more university backing.
“They can’t serve alcohol because they’re only 20, and they are also firm believers in providing a safe environment,” Beal said.
He added the students sent him the plan in response to a Craigslist ad, and it jumped out from a wide range of other proposals because it would attract EMU students to downtown Ypsilanti.
“There has always been this divide in Ypsilanti between downtown and Depot Town and EMU,” Beal said. “So there has always been a challenge to get EMU students downtown and this will do that.”
No plans or a concept are yet available from the food entrepreneur, Beal added, and he’s still considering ideas for the remaining 12,000 square feet split between the building’s basement and second floor.
The Savoy nightclub last operated at the address, though prior to that it was the Club Divine dance club for several years.
Savoy and the neighboring Pub 13 were operated by David Curtis and considered the heart of downtown Ypsilanti’s “entertainment district.” Curtis closed them in November 2010 amid what Curtis described as a dispute with DTE Energy over his utility billing. The businesses were $30,000 in arrears, according to DTE — though DTE admitted a malfunctioning meter caused the massive underbilling.
The property was owned by the Michigan Commerce Bank and listed by Swisher’s Dave Hamilton.
Pub 13 sold in February this year and is planned to open as The Back Office Studio, a “professional co-working space” for growing Washtenaw County businesses. Its owners purchased the 115-year-old building for $200,000 and invested around $250,000 to renovate it.
Beal is holding an open house for community members and entrepreneurs to look at the building’s remaining space on Aug. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.