Answer me this: Where can you go on the east side of Detroit to grab a hot cup of Joe, launder your clothes, finish that assignment for work, talk to a lawyer, all while you have your child tutored in literacy? Only at The Commons on the corner of Mack and Van Dyke.
The Commons is a million-dollar redevelopment by the Mack Avenue Community Church (MACC) under their MACC Development non-profit. The faith-based non-profit community development corporation held the grand opening of The Commons, which was essentially a neighborhood block party, featuring music and dancing, food trucks, a ribbon cutting, a 50/50 raffle, and more.
“Today is a celebration of what God has allowed us to do,” said Executive Pastor of the MACC and Board Chairman of MACC Development, Leon Stevenson. “For some time, we have been people that have invested in the neighborhood and in the community. But, beyond just our physical talents, we wanted to invest finances as well. We wanted to see this community have a space where they could come and get coffee, do their laundry and have a community center.”
Once a former furniture warehouse, the MACC bought the 12,000-square foot building in 2010 for just $500. After moving some things around and investing close to $1.5 million we know have The Commons. The Commons is more than just a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi and a laundromat. The MACC has an after-school tutoring program called MACC Lit which will operate in The Commons, in addition to their MACC Legal program, which provides specialty legal consultation.
There are also beds and showers for mission teams that will visit during the summer months to provide service to the community. Plans are also in place to partner with neighbor, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, to create a community park on a nearby vacant lot which will feature a performance space, seating and a playground for children called Mack Lot.
“As a church, we’re trying to get to know people and see them experience joy and peace,” said Stevenson. “As we talked to people in the neighborhood, we found out what was robbing them of their peace. Sometimes, it was legal issues, housing, or that their child couldn’t read. So, we would love for young, old, black, white, whatever, to come and enjoy this space and benefit from what we have to offer.”
The ultimate goal of The Commons is to be a meeting place where residents in the surrounding Pingree Park, Islandview, East Village, West Village, and Indian Village neighborhoods all feel valued. Murals of Detroit and church benches decorate the inside of The Commons. The coffee shop and laundromat are on the first floor, plus a literacy room on the ground floor. The second floor has a large community space with tables and chairs. MACC offices take up the rest of the space on that floor. The beds and showers are on the lower floor.
“We went through the construction process for almost two years and a planning process of almost for years, specifically around this business,” said Ezekiel Harris, Executive Director of MACC Development. “We wanted to throw a huge party to celebrate all of this coming together and for people to a touch point with The Commons. This is a cool place that anybody can feel well welcome at.”