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Historic Detroit rec center to be saved, made into restaurant and community center

City of Detroit

Just eight months after it was set to be torn down, developers are preserving the historic Detroit recreation center where Joe Louis trained.

The Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center is nearly 52,000 square feet of history: The Harlem Globetrotters played there, and it was managed by Leon Wheeler, the first African American recreation worker in Detroit.

And it's great real estate – right between Midtown and Downtown, so it could be a savvy move for the developers who are putting $50 million into turning it into a new restaurant, bar, and community space.

About 150 housing units will also be built on the property, about 20% of which will be affordable.

Developers for both projects are promising a portion of the jobs created will go to Detroiters. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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