The Green Garage is a shared workspace for socially and environmentally conscious small businesses and nonprofits, as well as a demonstration center for sustainability principles in an urban setting. We’re a triple bottom line business, meaning that we make decisions based on three main considerations: environmental stewardship, community wellbeing, and economic resilience.
We operate out of a sustainably rehabilitated 1921 auto showroom in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Midtown Detroit. We opened for business in Fall 2011, and in the decade since, we’ve grown into a diverse and thriving community of nearly 50 different companies. The members of our coworking community work in a wide variety of industries, and represent varying ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds, but we all come together around the goals of helping each other grow and succeed while caring for the Earth and our city of Detroit.
HOW WE GOT STARTED
The Green Garage grew out of the Great Lakes Green Initiative (GLGI), a community learning project founded in 2005 by Tom and Peggy Brennan, whose aim was to educate and empower a group of friends and neighbors to reduce the environmental impact of their daily lives.
Out of that effort came the idea of creating a place where sustainability principles could be put into practice in a commercial setting, and shared with a wider network. Before long, that goal was joined with a desire to support Detroit’s growing community of small business owners, and the basic idea of the Green Garage was born.
In late 2007, Tom and Peggy acquired the property at 4444 Second Avenue. With a group of co-founders from GLGI and hundreds of volunteers, they began a three year process of deconstructing and reconstructing the building, and designing and installing systems that would reduce its ecological footprint well into the future. At the same time, they envisioned and designed the scope of the business services, building relationships along the way with local small business owners, as well as faculty and students from Wayne State University, the College for Creative Studies, the University of Michigan, and Lawrence Tech University. (Please visit our original wiki site for a closer look at the Green Garage’s formative years.) In late 2011, the first business-in-residence moved in, and we started down the path we continue to walk today, where we are regularly joined by business and nonprofit leaders who are looking for a supportive community to become part of, and a sustainable place to do their great work.
HISTORY OF OUR BUILDING
The story of the Green Garage building spans Detroit’s industrial past and looks forward to a more sustainable future. 4444 Second Avenue is a one-time automobile showroom and service station originally built in 1921, during the early boom of Detroit’s auto industry. We honor the entrepreneurial spirit that has been a part of the building’s story since those days, a spirit that was carried forward to the 1930s through the 1990s, when the building served as the headquarters for Kanners and Patrize, a wholesale shoe supply business that served metro Detroit for 60 years.
In late 2007, the building was purchased by Tom and Peggy, who saw in it an opportunity to create both a demonstration center for sustainability practices and a collaborative workspace that would support Detroit’s growing small business community. Along with a core group of co-founders and hundreds of generous volunteers, they spent three years deconstructing and reconstructing the building, finding opportunities to reuse original materials wherever they could, and designing and building the innovative systems that make the Green Garage one of the greenest historic buildings in the Midwest. Learn more on our Sustainability page.
THE EL MOORE
After opening the Green Garage for business in 2011, we put our creative energy into developing our first sister business, the El Moore Lodge. Located just two blocks south of us, the El Moore Lodge is both an apartment building, with twelve annual rental apartments, and and overnight lodge, with 11 rooms for nightly or short-term stays.
Built in 1898 as luxury apartments, by the early 2000s, the El Moore was left vacant and open to the elements. We rehabilitated it using an approach similar to the one that guided our redevelopment of the Green Garage, emphasizing material reuse, sustainable systems, and green operations. The El Moore Lodge opened for business in January 2016 and continues to provide a one-of-a-kind living or visiting experience in Detroit’s historic Cass Corridor neighborhood, one that emphasizes sustainability and creates connections between visitors to Detroit and residents of the building.
EL MOORE GARDENS
Adjacent to the 1898 building is the El Moore Gardens, a publicly accessible neighborhood green space we opened in 2019 to nurture our community’s relationship with nature and to promote joy, wellness, and a sense of belonging. Filled with Michigan native plants, the Gardens provides an opportunity for quiet relaxation and playful learning. Its events and activities move with and celebrate the rhythm of the seasons and our connectedness to all living things.
The final phase of the El Moore development is Seasons Market, a neighborhood good food market scheduled to open in Fall 2021. Seasons will operate out of a new building on the El Moore Gardens site that was built out of reclaimed brick from a deconstructed historic apartment building nearby. It will be a place for neighbors to pick up fresh produce and Detroit and Michigan-made products, as well as a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. We look forward to welcoming you!