Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert has made it official: A Nike store is coming to 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 spring 2016.
Reports have circulated for months that Nike would open a store downtown, but Gilbert’s tweet was the first official confirmation. In his Twitter message, Gilbert said, “Believe. Then see it.”
Although Nike’s shoes and other athletic products can be purchased at dozens of outlets in Metro Detroit as well as online, a Nike store represents something else again — a spacious upscale lifestyle emporium that often becomes a destination in itself.
In Detroit, it would become the latest upscale retailer along the formerly lackluster stretch of Woodward between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park. Recent additions to that stretch include the upscale John Varvatos men’s clothing store. In the past, the Moosejaw outdoor clothing and equipment store opened nearby.
Nike communications manager Lisa Beachy confirmed the shoe and apparel manufacturer’s plans for Detroit .
“We look forward to bringing Nike’s performance products and experiences to downtown Detroit with our sixth Community Store, scheduled to open in 2016,” she said. ”
By “community store,” Nike means a retail site that pays particular attention to the needs of a community and its children.
On its website, Nike says of its community-store concept: “As part of its Community Store model, Nike store employees and Nike’s retail leadership support volunteerism and allocate volunteer hours to sport- and non-sport-related efforts. Store employees, who are known as ‘athletes,’ will work with kids to drive early, positive experiences with physical activity throughout the community.”
Eric Larson, CEO of the civic leadership group Downtown Detroit Partnership, said the Nike store would contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown.
“Great tenant and will generate lots of foot traffic,” Larson said. “The community store concept blends the strength and visibility of an iconic international brand with an authentic connection to Detroit’s deep heritage, which is critical as we activate our downtown.”
Robin Boyle, a professor of urban planning at Wayne State University, said a new upscale retailer downtown won’t help the city at large but will inject new energy into the downtown scene.
“Does a Nike store signal the revival of downtown Detroit and through that the City of Detroit? I think not,” Boyle said. “But, as a symbol of returning retail activity to Woodward Avenue, a Nike store on Woodward is powerful and, yes, I believe it will attract residents and visitors alike.”
Nike last established a presence in downtown Detroit in 2004 when it occupied a small portion of an Athlete’s Foot store that opened at 1448 Woodward. That store closed after a few years.
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