Detroit Bus Company Pivots to Serve Youth, Relocates to Historic Factory

10/8/13Follow @XconomyDET

The Detroit Bus Company, a transit startup founded by Andy Didorosi in 2012 to try and solve some of Detroit’s myriad public transportation issues, announced last week that it has consolidated its operations. It has moved from a depot in Ferndale, MI, and office in downtown Detroit to a historic factory in Hamtramck. (Though Hamtramck is technically a separate municipality, think of it like Detroit’s Vatican City: It’s tiny, and it’s completely surrounded by Detroit.)

Didorosi is a firm believer in “put your money where your mouth is” when it comes to businesses that want to help move Detroit forward. It’s important to him to have his operations entirely within the city limits, he says.

He says he’s also doubling down on his commitment to Detroit by launching Eight & Sand, a business development complex within the Detroit Bus Company’s massive new space. Didorosi says renovations will begin immediately on the 90,000-square-foot factory, which was built in 1920, and will offer space to businesses looking to locate in Detroit.

Eight & Sand—the name refers to a term used in the 19th century to wish a steam locomotive engineer a safe journey—already has its first anchor tenant: Fowling Warehouse. “Fowling” is what it sounds like: a cross between football and bowling, where players hurl footballs at bowling pins in a competitive two-on-two configuration. According to Didorosi, the sport was invented at the Indy 500 by a group of Detroiters. After a successful launch at City Airport, Fowling Warehouse will double in size and also offer a full-service bar, stage, beer garden, and 20 lanes for fowling.

Also working out of Eight & Sand is Charlie Molnar of Sit on It Detroit, who builds bus benches out of reclaimed wood, fills them with donated books, and installs them at but stops that don’t have functioning benches (there are more than 2,500 of them in the city). Reclaim Detroit, another innovative startup, will use space at Eight & Sand to reclaim and reprocess deconstructed (read: abandoned) homes into organized building materials.

But perhaps most exciting for Detroit residents at large is the heated indoor food truck pavilion and communal dining tables set to open at Eight & Sand in 2014. (While practically every other city in America is crowded with food trucks, Detroit’s mobile dining scene has just begun to take off due to an antiquated city law that forbade food trucks from operating inside the city limits. El Guapo, the first official food truck in Detroit, wasn’t able to get a permit until 2011.)

But what do food trucks, bus benches, and repurposed building materials have to do with transit? Strictly speaking, nothing. But all of these projects are united in terms of sheer innovation and optimism in a city struggling through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. They represent the kind of fresh, forward thinking that … Next Page »

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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  • Tom Nardone

    Andy D. is a great guy.