reporter for WDET in Detroit, Michigan.
The idea of “Hostel Detroit” started about a year back when Emily Doerr — a resident in the city’s Corktown neighborhood — says the interest in hosting a “couch surfer” grew to the point where she was considering putting up bunk beds in her condo to welcome even more out-of-towners.
“I was thinking it would be kind of a pilot, like a ten bed thing,” Doerr says. “But then I was talking to some of the people in the city who really support hostels and they said ‘No, don’t do a pilot, don’t do something small. Go big, Emily. You will have people behind you.’”
And right now, Doerr has well over a dozen people helping her bring Hostel Detroit to reality in the North Corktown neighborhood. Among them is Ashley Woods — a member of the board of directors. She says the location suits their mission because Corktown is a good home base to start exploring the city.
The hostel itself will be a four unit apartment building on the corner of Vermont and Spruce. The four-thousand square-foot building dates from 1900, but was recently renovated. With plans for three double beds and 20 bunk beds, about 26 people will be able to stay on any given night.
Doerr and Woods say Hostel Detroit will be a unique experience for guests because of extra kitchen and shower facilities on site. Outside the building is a rather large yard — one that Woods says is leading organizers to contemplate its possibilities.
A business plan has been written, a non-profit is being formed and the group is seeking donations and assistance to help bring the hostel to life, organizers say. Right now, everything is needed, from furniture and mattresses to bed frames and cleaning supplies. In total, the building — inside and out — is expected to be ready for a grand opening this spring. Doerr says her goal is to make Hostel Detroit a place where creative people from around the world and down the block meet.
Doerr says hooking people into the Detroit scene isn’t just for out-of-towners — she wants to bring in the locals in as well.
“There’s so many people here in Southeast Michigan, who come to the city. They cross Eight Mile, they get downtown, they go to see the Lions or the Tigers or the Red Wings or they go to St. Andrew’s Hall or go to something at the Fox and then they get out of town, really quick,” she says. “Well, we want to incentivize it and maybe if they show their ticket stub [at the hostel] that they would get the room for maybe a few dollars off or something. Just as one more way to make sure that people who live only an hour from Detroit actually know Detroit.”