Two Woodmere businesses are investing in building expansions, continuing to improve what was once a dusty, quasi-industrial strip.
Art’s Auto Supply and its neighbor to the north, Tru-Fit Trouser Building, have both begun major projects along the smooth boulevard dotted with trees and perennials. The Art’s project will be a 10,000-sq.-ft. addition behind its current storefront; Tru-Fit’s will be two, 2,000-sq.ft. stand alone buildings on a slim strip of land adjacent to its parking lot on the north.
Eric Gerstner, owner of Gerstner Development, renovated the Tru-Fit Trouser Company’s 1950’s-era factory in 2006, establishing an “industrial chic” vibe with exposed trusses and concrete floors. Since the demand for space in the 22,000-sq.-ft. Tru-Fit is high, he said the time was right to add the two new buildings.
“They will be a combination of concrete block, metal siding and polished concrete floors, with transom windows and a metal band detail,” says Gerstner, whose deal was financed by Honor State Bank and is working with Ray Kendra of Environment Architects.
Lease rates for the four, 1,000-sq.-ft. units will range from $1,000-1,200 a month, with the option to purchase as a condominium unit, he said.
Art’s Auto Supply directly to the north of Tru-Fit just purchased and demolished the old Grand Traverse Radiator Service building to the east, making way for a springtime 10,000-sq.-ft. addition and extra parking, said John C. Bramer, Sr., whose father started Art’s in 1937.
“We’re just running out of room,” says Bramer, who is one of 96 ACDelco warehouse owners in the country and who also owns a plow installation center and parts storage facility in three buildings on 12th Street.
Both say an improved economy sparked their expansions as well as the city’s investment in Woodmere Avenue as a main road into downtown.
“Back when I was a kid, Woodmere was nothing but a dirt road with a junk yard at the end of it,” Bramer adds. “Now that the city has put a lot of time and effort beautifying it, Woodmere has become a main artery which is good business for us.”