Duo makes mark on Detroit's redevelopment

George Stewart, Michael Byrd bring new life to block in Midtown


DETROIT – Two Detroiters are making their mark to rebuild the city.

George Stewart and Michael Byrd own an entire block of prime real estate on Woodward Avenue called "Woodward Gardens."

The two men met in the 1960s as researchers for General Motors. As they worked their way up the corporate ladder, they always had entrepreneurial spirit to do something more for the city.

It wasn't until the late 1990s that they retired from GM. And despite being in their 70s, they had their eyes set on purchasing the old Garden Theater on Woodward Avenue in Midtown.


Built in the 1900s, the building had been vacant for decades.

Their vision was to bring back the days of the 50s and 60s, when social culture was thriving. They wanted a place where people could gather, have fun and enjoy live entertainment. And they did it. The theater can now be rented for concerts, weddings and corporate events.

But what began as opening a theater snowballed into building a parking garage and buying and redeveloping every building on the entire block – there's Great Lakes Coffee on one end and a 61-unit apartment building above, which is set to open in March.

There's available space for lease below next to the upscale "The Grill Midtown" restaurant.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Byrd's daughter. It's open six days a week for lunch, happy hour and dinner.

The theater hosted its first concert in October and has since had several performances of all genres. It can hold 1200 people standing and 600 sitting for concerts and private events.