One of the most unique buildings in Detroit is another step closer to its planned rehab. On Wednesday, the Detroit Historic District Commission approved plans for additions to Stanley Hong's Mannia Cafe building, which will be turned into a performing arts venue.
The building was purchased by Jen Lyon of Mean Red Productions earlier this year. Plans include a large arts space with capacity for 700 people, a lounge for 150 people, and a restaurant. Elise DeChard of End Studios is the architect for the renovation.
The building was designed by noted Black architect Nathan Johnson, who passed away this week at age 96. Johnson was a prominent architect in Detroit, with buildings including the addition to the Second Baptist Church in Greektown, the People Mover stations, and Grace Episcopal Church.
Stanley Hong's, located in Milwaukee Junction at 249 East Baltimore, had a second life as the Rhythm Kitchen in the 1990s, and was owned by various churches after. The building has been vacant since 2013 and became a single building historic district in 2017. It's one of the few Googie style buildings in the area.
New additions include a roof and the lounge. Currently, the ceiling is only 11 feet high. For any commercial building, especially a music venue, the building will need a higher ceiling. The roof addition will be set back, with feathered panels covered in metal mesh, raising the ceiling to 20 feet. A 2,000-square-foot lounge will be added on the side, aligning with the angled facade.
The building will also be restored to a white exterior. Windows will be added allowing light into the restaurant.
Many people in attendance voiced their enthusiasm for the project and appreciation for the building and the architect.
We currently don't have a timeline for the redevelopment.
Milwaukee Junction has undergone a revival in recent years. Many of the industrial and warehouse buildings have been converted to lofts and apartments. Bars, restaurants, and retail have opened in the past few years. And recently Chroma opened its coworking space.