Motor City on the Move: Downtown Developments

By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor

Detroit is currently going through a fiscal crisis, but that isn’t stopping businesses from coming in and calling Downtown home. The Motor City was just assigned an Emergency Financial Manager, Kevyn Orr, an attorney from Washington D.C., and graduate of the University of Michigan.

While he looks to help the city government restructure and rebuild their finances, Orr is also going to be a witness to the revitalization that is going on Downtown.

The new Crowne Plaza Hotel. (Courtesy Curbed Detroit)

The new Crowne Plaza Hotel. (Courtesy Curbed Detroit)

What will he be seeing might you ask? Well, there are plenty of new firms converging on Detroit, along with some developments that just might surprise you.

To start off, Downtown Detroit has a couple of hotel developments currently in progress. No, not the Marriott at the Renaissance Center or the Westin-Book Cadillac, those are already finished and doing just fine. Just across the street and bit west of the Marriott on Jefferson Ave. is going to be the brand new Crowne Plaza Hotel in the former Hotel Pontchartrain.

Many will probably know this building as a triangular glass structure right across the street from Cobo Center. It was purchased a couple of years ago and is undergoing a massive renovation.

All of the windows were replaced, the facade changed colors from brown to pink, and the top floor dining space was remodeled. All of the rooms have a water and city view, hence the triangular-type shape. It is set to open later this spring, which will make for great views.

Right next door to the Crowne Plaza is the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters. They will be moving to the former MGM Grand Detroit Casino along with Detroit Police, State Police, and EMS to be the new Public Safety Headquarters.

The building went up for sale, and was quickly bought. The sale still has to be approved by Detroit City Council, which should be approved by Orr, who hopes to work with the City Council in order to convert the old HQ into a boutique hotel.

The group that bought the building, the Aparium Hotel Group, has already done one project in Milwaukee and one in Chicago. The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee was a renovation of an older building, so they have proof they can renovate an old building and turn it into something great, mainly a 75-80 room boutique hotel.

Along with the hotels, Detroit also has an opening for building to be built. That space is the old J.L. Hudson’s site right behind Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans headquarters in the Compuware Building.

He’s currently taking designs for the site, turning it into an international competition. So if you want to design the next Detroit landmark on the site of probably the most iconic Detroit landmarks that ever existed, this is your chance. Gilbert plans on spending up to $75 million on the project, which really isn’t that much for a plot as large as a whole city block.

Very little has been released about the project, but it’s expected to be a mix of retail, residential, office space, and possibly hotel. More details are set to be released in the coming weeks.

With the news of some hotel resurgence and the possibility of the Hudson’s site being developed in the coming years, it doesn’t matter if there is a financial emergency or not, Downtown Detroit is a place people want to be.

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