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Building Hugger finds opportunity in the historic preservation of Detroit structures

When Amy Swift moved back to Michigan in 2011, the newly minted Ivy Leaguer had a master's degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, but not much else.

"I wasn't sure what was next at that point," Swift says. But it didn't take long for the architect to fall in love with Detroit, so she launched her own business: Building Hugger.

"I was really inspired by the opportunities that were here," Swift says.

Building Hugger specializes in historic preservation. If that seems broad, then know that such a wide focus wasn’t accidental. Today the company specializes in everything from design to renovating distressed properties to refurbishing historic windows.

"I founded Building Hugger before I knew what the focus would be," Swift says. "I found a lot of different projects. Some have been successes. Some have been failures. Some have been both. It’s to the point where I now know exactly what Building Hugger is."

The Detroit resident has participated in a recent auction of tax foreclosed properties and is working on rehabbing a couple of single family homes -- one at the front and the other at the rear of the same lot -- near Clark Park in southwest Detroit. You can check out the business plan for the project here.

Swift also is working in a number of construction trades, taking a special interest in window restoration. She has recently been working on restoring the windows of the Venture For America house in Virginia Park, and is taking on more similar projects.

"There is a lot of room for growth in this area," Swift says.

Source: Amy Swift, founder & principal of Building Hugger
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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