Detroit — Something unusual is creating a buzz on the city’s east side: a laundromat that serves coffee.
After three years of development and over a million dollars in renovation, the Commons — the combination laundromat, café and community space — has opened on Mack.
The Commons is a project of Mack Avenue Community Church.
“The Commons is for our community in the 48214 area,” said Ezekiel Harris, MACC Development executive director. “It is for the residents who have been here through the years, but it is also for newcomers who want to be part of the amazing community we have here.”
Harris said MACC Development went door-to-door, asking neighbors what they wanted to see in their community, and their main request was a laundromat.
MACC Development purchased the Commons property — a former furniture shop — in 2011 for $500 from the Wayne County tax foreclosure auction.
Since then, with the help of foundation grants and fundraising, more than $1.5 million was spent on renovations, Harris said.
“There was a real need for having a laundromat in our area,” he said. “People from our community would have to travel miles and miles, and some would have to take a bus just to wash their clothes.”
Now residents can enjoy the convenience of doing laundry without traveling miles, he said.
The newly designed interior of the Commons does not look — or smell — like your average coined laundromat. The smell of clean laundry mixed with freshly brewed coffee is in the air.
The inside features 16 new washers and dryers, wood flooring, plush furniture and historical Detroit wall art. There are also conference tables available for patrons to work, eat or relax at while they do their laundry.
The second floor consists of a community space and offices that are available for rent.
The Commons café serves sandwiches, salads, drinks and baked goods from local businesses, including Populace Coffee, Intu Tea, Avalon International Breads, Sweet Potato Sensations and On the Rise Bakery.
Jesse Bandfield, general manager of the Commons, said working at the laundromat and coffee shop has been a great experience so far.
“It’s our customers that keep me motivated every day,” Bandfield said. “I enjoy watching them pull up a seat at the coffee bar and talking to me about their daily activities. Our customers have become one big family to us.”
Brenda Jackson, 25, of Detroit said she is glad her voice was heard when it was needed the most.
“You don’t know how much this laundromat means to me,” she said. “It’s good to know when you want nice things in your community, it can happen when you talk to the right people.”
Harris said the mission now is to drive more business owners to the Mack area.
“We sit at the intersection of some amazing and diverse neighborhoods,” he said. “I have confidence that this 13-block stretch will soon be filled with more residents and business leaders.”
The Commons will hold a grand opening celebration and block party May 12.
For more information on the Commons, visit www.thecommonsdetroit.com.
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