$250,000 FANCY GARAGES FILLING UP FAST IN PONTIAC
HIGH-PERFORMANCE TRACK ON PACE TO OPEN IN JUNE
DETROIT FREE PRESS
By JC Reindl
February 1, 2016
Brad Oleshansky wore a look of satisfaction last week as he showed off one of the most unique and underestimated construction projects in metro Detroit.
Just seven months ago, his 87 acres of former factory grounds along Pontiac’s Woodward Avenue were covered in broken concrete and choked with weeds. Today, the concrete is all gone and a 1.5-mile, high-performance car track is taking shape.
Circling the track are 80 souped-up, two-story garages known as “car condos” priced around $250,000 that are over halfway through construction and already sold to buyers. Phase II involving 50 more condos is now under way to meet the hot demand.
Known as the M1 Concourse, Oleshansky’s $60-million car lovers’ playground is defying its early skeptics and on pace for a June opening, when it would become the first project of its kind in Michigan and second-largest in the country. Oleshansky and his investment partners are already talking about a future Phase III and Phase IV.
“There were a ton of skeptics,” said Oleshansky, a lawyer who is M1’s founder and CEO. “People said you’ll never find the land for this, and when I found the land, they said you’ll never get the city to approve it. Then people said this is so speculative, you’ll never find any investors — but we did.”
“All those skeptics have gone away, and many of those skeptics are buyers now. They’re coming in and saying, ‘I want that unit.’ Well, you could have had that unit six months ago.”
The concept behind M1 Concourse is to create a place where deep-pocketed car buffs can store, show off and test-drive high-end vehicles and socialize with those who share their passion. There are multiple car condo communities across the country, although few of them feature their own performance track and even fewer are situated in urban areas like Pontiac. (Most are found well outside city limits.)
The car condos at M1 are climate-controlled garages that can store five or more vehicles, depending on condo size and whether a lift was installed. They are usually outfitted with comforts such as big-screen TVs, pool tables, plush furniture and even golf simulators. The only restriction is that buyers can’t actually live in their condo because of zoning rules, but they can sleep over on occasion. Of the 120 car condo buyers so far, three have been women.
“Ninety-five percent (of buyers) are making these man caves, offices or corporate hospitality suites,” Oleshansky said. “We are looking at a lot of auto suppliers who are treating this like a suite at the Palace, except for here they can actually put their product in it and it’s on a test track.”
The M1 project has proven especially popular among the executive class of the auto and auto supplier industries. Bill Kozyra, chairmanand CEO of supplier T1 Automotive in Auburn Hills, has bought two condos that will store his collection of 16 high-performance vehicles, including a Porsche 911 GT3 and a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
He said he initially planned to just buy one M1 condo, but his excitement grew as he witnessed the construction progress.
“I think a lot of people weren’t able to appreciate it when it was only on paper,” Kozyra said, “but once you see steel being erected and can sort of drive on the track, you have a greater appreciation for what it is.”
Several of Kozyra’s friends also have bought condos, anticipating that Phase II could eventually sell out as well.
“I really think the demand is going to outstrip the supply. And once they’re gone, there’s probably not going to be a lot of turnover.”
Along with the year-round track, the M1 Concourse will feature an outdoor event arena with a 2.5- acre “skid pad” that can be used in the winter. Other plans call for future retail buildings and an on-site restaurant, which Oleshansky said is close to being finalized.
The 1.5-mile track is currently a dirt pathway; the asphalt surface is due to appear once the weather warms. Until then, work crews continue to install metal guardrails as well as safety barriers comprised of 20,000 tires, which the concourse received for free from tire companies due to some manufacturing blemishes.
The car condos range in size from 500 square feet to 2,200 square feet and are priced from $105,000 to $550,000. Oleshansky said the typical unit is $250,000, and buyers generally put another $50,000 to $100,000 worth of work into them.
Years ago, the M1 property was General Motors’ Pontiac West assembly plant; more recently, it was the automaker’s Validation Facility, where workers tested parts and practiced vehicle assembly.
Nearly all of the factory buildings were razed in 2008 and the land went into a trust for old GM properties. Oleshansky and his partners then bought the site, obtained the necessary approvals and unveiled their M1 plans in 2013.
“It’s a place to enjoy your car — no potholes, no cops.”
M1 CONCOURSE FACTS
- All 80 car condos in Phase I sold out last year.
- 20 of the 50 Phase II condos are still available.
- A typical condo costs $250,000.
- The 1.5-mile performance track opens in June; a grand opening is set for during the Woodward Dream Cruise.
- Project could hit $60-million investment and 260 total units with future Phase III and IV.
- Federal-Mogul Motorparts (Champion spark plugs) will be the track’s official sponsor