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Like Cars?

January 5, 2015
Enthusiasts’ dream destination to open next year on Woodward.
By Allan Nahajewski

It’s fitting that Woodward Avenue — the birthplace of cruising and the site of the world’s biggest one-day car event — is soon to be the home of a new $50 million dreamland for car collectors.

M1 Concourse is the name of the 87-acre development on the northwest corner of Woodward and South Boulevard in Pontiac, just north of Bloomfield Hills. The collectors’ paradise will include more than 260 car condos, a 1.5-mile test track, restaurants and a car-themed shopping village.

Sales of the first 80 car condos (aka garages) began in November, first with an offer to the enthusiasts who signed up to be on the M1 Concourse email list. By Nov. 7, half of the units were sold. Hopes are for a grand opening during next August’s Dream Cruise.

The car condos are designed to be more “man cave” than storage facility, though M1 Concourse founder and CEO Brad Oleshansky, 44, of Bloomfield Hills, generally steers clear from that descriptor because “we’ll have women buyers, too,” he says.

The condos come in two sizes — 600-square-foot for up to two cars and 1,200-square-foot for as many as six cars. “That’s just on the floor,” Oleshansky says. “If people have lifts, they can fit a lot more.”

The condos can be easily customized. Owners can add lofts for a bedroom, living room or a conference room. One customer wants to buy five garages for his 20 classic cars and include a golfing simulator and movie theater.

“People don’t view this as a place only to store cars,” Oleshansky says. “This is about a lifestyle. It’s about hanging out with people who have the same passion.”

Birth Of A Concept

M1 Concourse has been an idea in the making for a long time. Born in West Bloomfield, Oleshansky got the car bug early. “My dad was a hot rodder on Woodward,” he says. “He built and restored cars. I was his car detailer.”

After working in Los Angeles for 12 years as an entertainment lawyer, Oleshansky returned to Michigan in 2004. That’s when he started to think about finding a way to turn his passion for cars into a business.

“Metro Detroit has the largest concentration of classic cars in the world by far,” he says. “People have their cars in their garages, their family’s garages, storage centers, warehouses and businesses. But no one has created a place for these people to congregate, as well as to store their vehicles.”

Oleshansky traveled to car culture cities around the world in search of ideas. He found a car condo community in Minneapolis. He also researched race track facilities.

“No one has really combined the two,” he said. He found that while car condos have been successful, test tracks for car enthusiasts have not done as well. However, as word got out about his plans, car companies and enthusiast clubs convinced him of the need for the track for special events, driving schools, dealer training and year-round testing.

The property, which had been owned by General Motors for decades, has its place in automotive history. It was the site of the Rapid Motor Company, a predecessor to GM’s truck division.  The property became available as part of GM’s bankruptcy process.

“We started the development process a year and a half ago,” he says. “It took a while to get through the governmental approvals, but as this was going on, we started communicating with enthusiasts and car companies. Everyone had ideas.”

More than 650 enthusiasts signed on to an email list to stay on top of the latest developments. A week before this year’s Dream Cruise, the enthusiasts received an invitation to attend a Dream Cruise kickoff party.

“We had 600 people show up and 250 classic cars,” Oleshansky says. That turnout, as well as ongoing encouragement from the car enthusiast community, is fueling optimism for the potential of M1 Concourse’s future.

The Vision

M1 Concourse will be both a private club and a public destination. The community of private garages will accommodate more than 1,000 classic cars set along an undulating 1.5-mile track. A large portion of the project will be open to the public, where people can enjoy a walkable village of auto-focused businesses and year-round programming.

“Brad’s idea is fabulous,” says Scott Baker, CEO of The Dako Group, a Troy-based staffing services firm. “I’ve been a car collector forever. Currently, I have 50 classic cars. Real collectors like to be with other collectors. It’s an important part of their lives, and it runs through your blood. This will be like a country club for cars. These are going to be people I’m going to love talking to, being around and getting to know. It’s great for business connections. His concept brings you to car people, and I need that. It’s important to my business.”

Oleshansky says early buyers include a wide assortment of car collectors, including a local philanthropist who said she envisions the car condo as an ideal place to host fundraising parties.

M1 Concourse will be developed in phases, with the first phase including the first 80 garages. The facility will be open all year long.

“I thought the track might be dormant in the winter, but we’ve been approached by tire companies that want to offer winter driving schools. We’ve also been approached by snocross events,” Oleshansky says. “We expect this to be a vibrant place during the winter because enthusiasts like to work on their cars all year round.

“From a public perspective, we’re envisioning an attractive outdoor destination. We’re talking about heated sidewalks, fire pits, holiday décor and a skating rink.”

Seven acres in the middle of the property will provide ample space for car shows, swap meets, drive-in movies and concerts.

Sponsorship opportunities will be announced in the coming months.

“The community has been incredibly supportive,” he adds. “It really is an ideal development for Woodward and the entire area.”

For further information, visit www.m1concourse.com. NS

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