A Nike store will breathe new energy into downtown Detroit

Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert has made it official: a Nike store is opening in downtown Detroit.

Gilbert posted an announcement on his Twitter account Wednesday morning that a two-story, 22,000-square-foot Nike store would open at 1261 Woodward Avenue in the spring of 2016.

Reports have been circulating for months that Nike is opening a store downtown, but Gilbert’s tweet was the first official confirmation. In his Twitter post, Gilbert said, “Believe. So see it.”

Although Nike shoes and other athletic products can be purchased at dozens of outlets in the Detroit metro area as well as online, a Nike store is yet another thing – a high-end lifestyle department store. which often becomes a destination in itself.

In Detroit, it would become the last high-end retailer along the once drab Woodward stretch between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park. Recent additions to this stretch include high-end menswear store John Varvatos. In the past, the Moosejaw outdoor clothing and equipment store opened nearby.

Nike communications manager Lisa Beachy confirmed the shoe and apparel maker’s plans for Detroit.

“We look forward to bringing Nike performance products and experiences to downtown Detroit with our sixth community store, slated to open in 2016,” she said. “

By “community store,” Nike means a retail site that pays special attention to the needs of a community and its children.

On its website, Nike states of its community store concept: “As part of its community store model, Nike store employees and Nike retail management support volunteering and donate hours of volunteering to sports and non-sports efforts Store employees, who are known as “athletes,” will work with children to foster early, positive experiences of physical activity throughout the community.”

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Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership civic leadership group, said the Nike store will help the downtown area’s continued revitalization.

“Great tenant and will generate lots of foot traffic,” Larson said. “The community store concept combines the strength and visibility of an iconic international brand with an authentic connection to Detroit’s deep heritage, which is essential as we activate our downtown.”

Robin Boyle, an urban planning professor at Wayne State University, said a new upscale downtown retailer won’t help the city as a whole, but will inject new energy into the downtown scene.

“Does a Nike store signal the rebirth of downtown Detroit and through it the city of Detroit? I don’t think so,” Boyle said. “But, as a symbol of the return of retail activity to Woodward Avenue, a Nike store on Woodward is powerful and, yes, I think it will attract residents and visitors.”

Nike last established its presence in downtown Detroit in 2004 when it occupied a small portion of an Athlete’s Foot store opened at 1448 Woodward. This store closed after a few years.

Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.

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