Eye on the City

A young ophthalmologist sets his sights on the perfect apartment in a Detroit building that once was a theater


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Dr. Stephen Walters' living room in his Albert apartment is a favorite spot for friends and family to gather thanks to awesome views.

Dr. Stephen Walters’ move back to metro Detroit was a momentous concoction, unique to him: equal parts family and friends, served with an eye-opening splash of opportunity.

“I really envisioned myself being back here,” the 32-year-old Birmingham native says. He currently practices with Michigan Glaucoma Specialists, where he treats patients with cataracts and glaucoma. Walters graduated from Brother Rice High School, then pursued his undergrad degree at Miami University of Ohio, attended the Wayne State University School of Medicine, did residencies in Chicago and New York City, and ended his journey with a Glaucoma Fellowship at Columbia University in New York.

Top: Brilliant blues and fresh greens pop against muted grays and steel-blue/gray walls. Living with just the essentials is this resident's preference. Bottom: Dr. Stephen Walters enjoys a moment in the historic Albert lobby.

After years of being away from Michigan, and several close “matches” during the physician residency process, he finally embraced an opportunity that would bring him back home. He rented a minivan, invited his two best friends to accompany him, and the trio took off on a road trip to Detroit. They packed the van with the essentials: a few dishes, a beloved record player, and clothes, and drove straight from New York City to downtown Detroit. The three friends concluded the trip with a night out on the town and stayed at the newly opened The Siren Hotel — formerly known as the Wurlitzer building — which had been saved by developers from decades of decay and almost-certain demolition.

This past August, Walters chose a new home at The Albert, which, like many older buildings in the city, is being transformed into new housing. Built in 1929, the former Miles Theater was renamed after its architect, Albert Khan, during its most recent renovation by Broder & Sachse in 2004.

Walters’ apartment features a floor-to-ceiling arched bay window faced with limestone; it’s one of nine bays that’s a distinguishing exterior piece of The Alberts’ facade. A quick ride in the elevator brings immediate convenience to Walters and other residents of the Capitol Park neighborhood, so named because it housed the building that became Michigan’s first capitol building when it achieved statehood in 1837. Retailers like Detroit Bikes, Dessert Oasis, BOYD Beauty, Bird Bee, City Bark, LaLanterna, and Detroit’s new cocktail gem, BadLuck Bar, are all within walking distance.

The apartment features comfortable entertaining space, including this open kitchen and its eclectic lighting. Stainless steel and black evoke a handsome motif. 

To furnish his new space, Walters enlisted the help of his mother, Laurie Walters, and longtime family friend and interior designer Eileen Marsh, of EM Designs in Royal Oak. Together they devised a plan to keep the apartment comfortable and affordable, using pieces Walters had acquired over the years as well as a few key items that will transition well into the future. Noteworthy among Walters’ pieces are an African blue wildebeest  head, gifted by his brother-in-law; sprawling houseplants from his childhood home; an impressive record collection; and an heirloom sword, given to him by his grandfather, which holds a special spot near the bar area. He also displays an item from each place he’s lived. A piece of Detroit history will soon be included, as Walters recently acquired two red seats from Joe Louis Arena.

Blue and gray tones continue into the homeowner's comfortable bedroom, which overlooks the statue and remains of Michigan's first governor (the youngest in America's history), Stevens T. Mason.

The apartment is a perfect mix of comfort and entertaining space. “It’s great to sit and look out into the bustling park, or host family and friends for a big dinner,” Walters says. Frequent visitors include his parents, sister, and young niece, who now spend a considerable amount of time in the city. 

The building's vibrant community lounge boasts bold colors and offers a great backdrop for entertaining guests.

Although he took time researching other cities, Walters says he was happy he didn’t have to rely on the old faithfuls like Chicago, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C., to find a good work-life balance. “Not only is (the Detroit area) a great place to practice medicine, but I love the sense of community and being part of a thriving downtown,” he says.

When asked how long he plans to live downtown, Walters was quick to respond: “For the foreseeable future!”

 

 

 


IN THE DETAILS: RESOURCE GUIDE

Interior designer, Eileen Marsh, EM Designs, Royal Oak. Master bedroom bedding, Pottery Barn. Coffee table, living room, Art Van. Bar, HomeGoods. Leather chairs, living room, Joss & Main. Glassware and bar accessories, bar area, Hugh, Detroit. Sofa, living room, Art Van. Coffee table accessories, Hugh and Urbanum, Detroit. Sofathrow, WestElm, Birmingham. Styling by Hannah Jo Hoppough.

 

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