The J looks to open new center location in Berkley in 2025

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 19, 2023


BERKLEY — The former Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, located in West Bloomfield, is aiming to open a new center in Berkley within the next couple of years.

In addition to its announcement of its rebrand as “The J,” the center will be opening a space in Berkley at 27333 Woodward Ave. in 2025.

Sarah Allyn, chief operating officer of The J, said the center was looking to open its new space somewhere on the east side of Telegraph Road. They reviewed factors including accessibility, visibility and parking square footage and felt the location on Woodward checked all the boxes.

“The geographic location is pretty central for many different communities, from Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale all the way up to the northern parts of Southfield,” she said. “It felt like a pretty central location for that side of town. It was the square footage we wanted and needed, and had the parking that we wanted and needed. It is, I think, 0.2 miles from a bus stop. There’s walkability, there’s bikeability, and so this was really the best choice for us.”

City Manager Matt Baumgarten said in a text message that, because the development process is in its early stages, he can’t provide comment on the project at this time.

“I am excited at (the) prospect (of) this project and that our city is continuing to grow and attract diverse organizations such as the Jewish Community Center,” he said. “We look forward to working with the center’s team during the development process of this project.”

Allyn stated the plan is to renovate and add some square footage to the building. As for how the space will be utilized, she described it as “very flexible and agile” in terms of its use.

Allyn said The J has two primary goals in the use of the space. One is to bring existing programs and some new programs to the space.

“We offer arts and culture programs and education programs. We offer programs for seniors, kids and families, and recreation. So the idea is to bring a taste of all of that programming to this space, but the space will remain flexible,” she said. “We will have rooms that can be used for a senior flexibility and mobility class one day and a lecture the next day. And we’re really excited to bring a lot of the programs that happen here in West Bloomfield over to that side of town.”

The other goal, Allyn said, is to have sort of a co-working model where anyone from the community can come in and feel like they have a warm and welcoming space to use.

“Whether it’s business or meeting up with friends and to have some rooms where folks can gather and, whether it’s like a professional capacity or a personal capacity, there will be some food service, there will be some beverage service and it’ll really, hopefully become a gathering spot for the community,” she said.

“We’re so excited,” she continued. “We currently do a lot of programming out in the community. So when we talk about the programs that The J offers, we say in person, online or out in the community. So many of our departments offer programming at coffee shops, at public parks, at synagogues or other spaces. And we definitely do a lot of programming on that side of town because there’s a demand for it. We’re super excited to have a space to call not just our own, but the community’s.”