West Village Park Apartments

1085 Van Dyke in the West Village Historic District


This building looks very attractive in its centennial year.  Perhaps it should since this structure was recently renovated. 

The West Village is one of a few underappreciated residential neighborhoods in Detroit.  It is bounded, on the south, by East Jefferson; on the west by Seyburn; on the north by Kercheval and on the east by Parker.  Most of the homes and the few apartment houses in the district were constructed between about 1905 and 1925.  The Indian Village neighborhood—to the immediate east of West Village—was developed between the late 1890s and the Depression.  Almost all of the homes in that neighborhood are large residences designed by leading architects using the finest materials available.  Indian Village is one of about one-half dozen Detroit neighborhoods that was, apparently, never in any serious danger of sliding into decadence.

Many of the homes in the West Village were built on smaller plots and are more modest than the Indian Village mansions.  Nevertheless, many of them were architect-designed with innovative embellishments and distinctive features.  Here you will find Queen Anne style, Tudor, Jacobean and Colonial Revival style homes.  They cannot be confused with the acres and acres of workingmen’s homes built throughout Detroit as the manufacturing of cars and trucks became the city’s distinctive activity.

The post-World War II years were not kind to Detroit as the tax base collapsed, eventually leading to bankruptcy in 2013.  Federal housing policies encouraged a migration of white residents to the suburbs and, by the 1960s, most middle-income neighborhoods were rapidly losing their residents.  There was likelihood that the West Village area could have become another one of Detroit’s many neighborhoods of abandoned homes and apartments.  Apparently, in the early 1970s, its residents and investors decided to do something positive to preserve the assets of their neighborhood.  They branded the area West Village, sought to encourage investments in the area and capitalized upon the fact that this neighborhood is contiguous to the prestige and very stable Indian Village neighborhood.  For the most part, the effort was successful so now West Village is a convenient and pleasant location.  The residents were successful in having new street lights installed; ones that resemble the gas lamps that were probably installed in the early years of the 1900s.   The West Village Historic area includes about 275 single-family homes, about 30 apartment building or row houses and, perhaps, as many as 20 commercial establishments.  The modest to substantial upturn in employment in downtown Detroit that began, perhaps, with General Motors moving into the Renaissance Center.  That rise in downtown white collar employment may increase the appeal of living in West Village.  It is close to the newly christened Detroit Gold Coast and within walking or bicycle distance of Belle Isle.

Relatively few apartment buildings were constructed in Detroit compared to other cities that grew rapidly at the same time such as Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.  However, the Village Park Apartment is an example of a modest sized building similar to many others found throughout the city.  Fortunately, following its renovation it is now very attractive.  The lead architect had a very productive career and designed many homes that were built from about 1890 to World War I in the then upscale districts of Detroit.

Architects: Almon Clother. Varney and Frederick J. Winter
Date of construction: 1914
Use in 2014:  Apartment Building
Website for management firm: http://www.continentalmgt.rentlinx.com/1085-Van-Dyke-St-Detroit-MI-48214
City of Detroit Designated District:  This structure is within the West Village Historic District designated
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites:  Listed, West Village Historic District is P290.
National Register of Historic Places: The West Village Historic District was listed on October 14, 1980.
Photograph: Ren Farley; July, 2014
Description prepared:  August, 2014

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