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Old Fire Station in Downtown Detroit to Become The Foundation Hotel

9 Jul 2014, 9:24 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Former Detroit Fire Department HQ building

Former Detroit Fire Department HQ building

The former Detroit Fire Department headquarters building located across from Cobo Center will no longer be an eyesore for the city thanks to a Chicago-based hotel group who wants to revive the historic fire station.

Aparium Hotel Group recently announced plans to renovate and convert the old fire station located at 250 W. Larned into an upscale independent hotel that will be integrated with the immediately adjacent building that housed the famous Pontchartrain Wine Cellars restaurant that closed in 1991. Aparium has partnered with local developer Walter Cohen of Arco Construction to embark on the extensive $28 million renovation project.

Built in 1929 and designed by Hans Gehrke—who also created the architectural plans for several fire stations in Detroit during the booming 1920s and 1930s—the five-story facility served as the administrative headquarters of the Detroit Fire Department until 2013, when it was sold to the co-developers for $1.25 million, Crain’s Detroit Business reported at the time.

According to a news release from Aparium, the roughly 62,000-square-foot hotel will be called The Foundation Hotel and will offer 100 guest rooms. When fully operational in late 2015, the hotel will employ mostly Detroit-based personnel. The former fire engine hall on the ground floor of the building will be replaced by a Detroit-themed restaurant that will be operated by the hotel. Aparium’s plans also include street-level retail space that “will showcase Detroit through the collaboration with Detroit- and Michigan-based manufacturers and designers.”

The conversion of the old fire station in downtown Detroit marks Aparium’s fourth hotel project. The hospitality development group has already developed three similar rehab projects in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (The Iron Horse Hotel), Covington, Kentucky (The Hotel Covington) and La Crosse, Wisconsin (The Charmant Hotel).

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Image via Wikimedia Commons (author Andrew Jameson)

Meijer Officially Breaks Ground on Second Store in Detroit

2 Jul 2014, 8:18 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The site of the former Redford High School located at the corner of Grand River Avenue and McNichols Road is being redeveloped into a “supercenter” grocery store by Meijer Inc.

The Grand Rapids-based retailer celebrated the official start of construction at its second store in the city of Detroit exactly one year after the grand opening of the first Meijer location at the historical Michigan State Fairgrounds on 8 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue.

Opened in 1921, Redford High School served the sub-communities of Old Redford, Grandmont, Rosedale Park and Brightmoor, which has become one of the most distressed neighborhoods in Detroit. Due to a decline in enrollment, Redford High School was shut down in 2007 along with 51 other public schools in the Detroit area. The school complex included six separate buildings, but each structure was built at unusual angles, isolating parts of the school. However, according to Detroiturbex.com, the 25-acre property was considered prime real estate thanks to the high median income and the densely populated area. The property was sold in fall 2011 for around $2 million to Lormax Stern Detroit Development LLC which committed to develop the site for Meijer.

Shortly after the deal was closed, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) approved brownfield tax credits worth $3.3 million that allowed Meijer to start cleaning up the property and prepare the site for construction. The abandoned high school at 21431 W Grand River was demolished one year later.

Meijer’s new, 190,000-square-foot store will cost around $30 million to build. When completed in fall 2015, the big-format “supercenter” will include a retail store, grocery space with locally sourced produce, a garden center,  a full-service pharmacy and a gas station. Meijer is expected to employ up to 500 positions at the new location in northwest Detroit, but the hiring process will begin in spring 2015.


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Developers Break Ground on 65,000 Sq. Ft. Retail and Restaurant Component at Northville Park Place

26 Jun 2014, 2:07 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A groundbreaking ceremony held on June 25 at the corner of Haggerty and Seven Mile roads in Northville Township marked the beginning of construction of the second phase of a large retail, restaurant and mixed-use complex that’s taking shape on the site of the former State of Michigan Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

Northville Park Place 7 Mile rendering

Northville Park Place 7 Mile rendering

As previously reported by Detroit Free Press, the hospital closed in May 2003 and its 400-acre campus was sold by the state three years later. In 2009 Northville Township acquired part of a 350-acre parcel that included the hospital’s remaining 15 structures. After completing a brownfield cleanup at the site, in 2012 the township announced plans to redevelop the former hospital site into a large recreational park with trails, walking paths, ponds and gardens.

REIS-Northville, a joint venture between Livonia-based Schostak Brothers & Company and REI Investment Group, Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, are moving forward with the 82-acre development called Northville Park Place that will comprise 500,000 square feet of commercial space. According to the development team, in the following weeks the University of Michigan Northville Health Center is set to move in a $39 million, 100,000-square-foot facility built at the site during Phase I by contractor George W. Auch Company.

The second phase of the Northville Park Place project encompasses 22 acres and will be built by Sachse Construction, a commercial construction company based in Detroit. It will include 65,000 square feet of retail and restaurants scheduled for completion in mid-January 2015, with interior tenant build-outs occurring through the first quarter of 2015. The developers have also announced the names of the businesses that have already leased space at the site: Granite City Food & Brewery, Rusty Bucket, Sherwin Williams, Chipotle Mexican Grill, BurgerFi (which opened its first Michigan location in Ann Arbor last year), and Jimmy John’s. The list of retail and restaurant tenants is expected to be complete by mid-2015.

Designed by Wah Yee Associates of Farmington Hills, Northville Park Place promises to be a standout from an aesthetic and experiential standpoint. The complex will include three individual ponds, each of them having its own floating fountain, and a unique elevated waterfall feature in the pond closest to the 7 Mile and Haggerty corner. Close to the ponds area, the complex will feature a paved plaza that will offer visitors an abundance of benches, outdoor seating and comfortable places to relax and socialize.

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Rendering via Schostak Brothers & Company

Bank of Ann Arbor is Approved for $4.2 Million Expansion

19 Jun 2014, 1:53 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


Bank of Ann Arbor - Google Street View

Bank of Ann Arbor – Google Street View

The Ann Arbor city council unanimously approved a $4.2 million expansion project of the Bank of Ann Arbor Headquarters and Branch Office located at the northeast corner of South Fifth Avenue and East Washington Street.

Under the plan designed by local architecture firm Bowers and Associates, the existing two-story facility at 125 S. Fifth Avenue will be completely remodeled and expanded to become a visual presence and dominant architectural feature in downtown Ann Arbor.

According to MLive.com, the bank’s current and only entrance on Fifth Avenue will be replaced with windows, while the existing yellow brick façade will be almost entirely replaced by brown and red-colored bricks and limestone-colored stone. Two new, separate entrances will be built on Fifth Avenue and Washington Street respectively, creating node at the corner street and offering a lively pedestrian experience.

Bank of Ann Arbor

Bank of Ann Arbor

The construction team spearheaded by developer First Martin Corporation will add a third story on top of the eastern part of the building. According to the source, the 9,440-square-foot addition will include office space, an executive suite and new boardroom.

Work on the façade remodeling is expected to start next month, with construction of the third floor set to begin in September. The project will take around 18 months to complete.

With the third floor addition, the Bank of Ann Arbor headquarters will expand to more than 32,500 square feet of space. According to The Ann Arbor Chronicle, the two-story office building was built in 1965 and then expanded in 1999—four years after First Martin Corporation acquired the structure for the Bank of Ann Arbor, which has a long term lease.


Click here for further market data on Detroit.


Rendering via Bowers and Associates

A Wave of Shopping Centers Coming to Suburban Detroit in 2016

12 Jun 2014, 12:30 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

New England Development, a real estate developer based in Newton, MA, is set to create an open-air retail center in Romulus, a small-sized suburban city located 23 miles from Detroit and roughly half an hour from the Canadian border.

Outlets of Michigan - Romulus MI

Outlets of Michigan – Romulus MI

The 325,000-square-foot outlet center will be called Outlets of Michigan and will be located right across Detroit Metro Airport, which is transited by around 32 million passengers annually, and at the intersection of Interstate 94 and Vining Road. Scheduled to open in 2016, Outlets of Michigan is expected to become the most convenient outlet destination in the region, serving the shopping needs of Ann Arbor, Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio.

According to a news release from the developer, the outlet center’s architectural style will reflect the unique character of Detroit, while the shaded pedestrian walkways are designed to enhance the visitor’s shopping experience. Though the developer hasn’t announced any store names yet, the 75 retailers that will lease space at the center will target more than 3.5 million people living within 30 miles of the proposed development site.

But Outlets of Michigan is not the only new retail project announced in the region. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, two other shopping centers are coming to suburban Detroit. A joint venture between Center Management Services Inc. of Birmingham and Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc. of Cincinnati is currently building the Outlets of Southeast Michigan, a 330,000-square-foot outlet mall in the township of Chesterfield. Also located off Interstate 94, the shopping center will be completed in spring 2016 and will include more than 80 retailers. Meanwhile in Canton Township, Baltimore-based Paragon Outlet Partners will break ground next spring on a high-end outlet mall at the southeast corner of Interstate 275 and Ford Road. Spanning 375,000 square feet of space and aiming for a grand opening in the summer of 2016, Canton Outlets will feature as many as 100 stores.

Click here for more market data on Detroit.

Rendering courtesy of New England Development

Bedrock, Riverfront Holdings Grab More Real Estate in Downtown Detroit

6 Jun 2014, 1:52 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Riverfront Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of General Motors, grabbed four properties near the Detroit riverfront area and east of the Renaissance Center. As first reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, the acquisition encompasses three vacant buildings totaling nearly 31,000 square feet and a 0.8-acre surface parking lot. While the financial terms haven’t been disclosed, Crain’s said that the buyer was represented in the transaction by the Detroit office of CBRE Inc.

The largest and oldest asset in this bulk acquisition is the 12,700-square-foot structure sitting at 260 Schweizers Place that used to house the night club called Vondie’s on the River. The two-story building was constructed in 1885 and was previously owned by Handy Parking Inc.

The second building is located at 673 Franklin Street and has 9,600 square feet. According to Crain’s the 36-year-old building was previously owned by R.D. Franklin LLC and housed the Club Waterfall nightclub, McNarney’s Public House and a restaurant called Currents.

The third building that Riverfront Holdings purchased last month is an 8,400-square-foot  office structure located at 672 Woodbridge Street, while the surface parking lot is located at 689 Franklin Street between St. Antoine and Schweizers Place.

Another deal that recently made headlines involves Bedrock Real Estate Services, which reportedly acquired two mid-sized office buildings and a vacant lot in Detroit’s Capitol Park, adding more than 50,000 square feet to Dan Gilbert’s 8.2 million-square-foot real estate empire.

According to MLive.com, two of the properties—a six-story, 35,000-square-foot facility at 119 State Street and a five-story, 11,500-square-foot facility located at 45 W. Grand River Avenue—are in bad shape and will probably be redeveloped into retail buildings with apartments on the upper levels. The empty lot at 28 W. Grand River Avenue will be replaced by a new mixed-use building that will include apartments and ground floor retail space.


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Detroit Marriott Enters Last Chapter of Year-Long, $30 Million Renovation Process

28 May 2014, 4:22 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The $30 million renovation project that kicked off earlier this year at the 1,329-room Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is moving forward with a complex makeover of the hotel’s meeting space. This is the last phase of the year-long remodeling process and will encompass 100,000 square feet of space spanning three floors and 34 separate meeting rooms.

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center

“We’re very excited to begin this next big step of a $30 million renovation that is an investment in the City of Detroit, as well as an investment in this Michigan landmark hotel,” said Shonda Johnson, area general manager of the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. “Our modernized, beautiful and more flexible meeting space will help draw more visitors and milestone events to our amazing city,” she added.

Estimated to be completed in December, this chapter in Marriott RenCen’s renovation will also be done in phases, enabling group functions to continue without disruption, and will focus on enhancing the conference spaces’ functionality and aesthetics, the hotel’s officials announced. Also included in this phase is the two-level concierge lounge located on the 56th and 57th floors which will be refurbished and reconfigured to resemble an automobile showroom.

Nicknamed Marriott RenCen, the 71-story hotel in Downtown Detroit is the tallest building in the city and the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The landmark hotel was completed in 1977 and stands as the central tower in a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers known as The Renaissance Center. The Class A office complex was built for the Henry Ford Motor Company by New York-based Tishman Construction under plans designed by John Portman & Associates.

In 1996 the 5.5 million-square-foot mega-property was purchased by General Motors to serve as the company’s global headquarters. The 14-acre, Class A office center is one of the largest commercial complexes in the world. A veritable “city within a city,” it includes a shopping center, restaurants, banks, private clubs and a movie theater and even has its own zip code, 48243—housing more than 5,000 GM workers and 4,000 center tenant employees.


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Image via Marriott

Quicken Loans Starts Construction on 66,000 Sq. Ft. Technology/Data Center Outside Detroit’s CBD

22 May 2014, 1:52 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Quicken Loans Technology Center - Corktown, Detroit

Quicken Loans Technology Center – Corktown, Detroit

The site of a former industrial building sitting at the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Porter Street in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit is being redeveloped into a new technology center by online mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. and its affiliate Bedrock Real Estate Services LLC.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, in November 2013 the 38,000-square-foot industrial warehouse located at 1401 Rosa Parks was acquired for $625,000 by Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans who owns around 8 million square feet of real estate space in Detroit, ­through his real estate investment arm Rock ventures LLC. Reportedly, the single-story property was occupied by two tenants at the moment of sale—the Great American Truck Driving School and Concrete Cutting Co. —but the companies left the building shortly after the deal was closed.

The 66,000-square-foot Quicken Loans Technology Center is scheduled to open in January 2015 and will serve as a data center and office complex. Set to become Dan Gilbert’s first development project located outside Detroit’s Central Business District, the state-of-the-art technology center also marks Bedrock’s second ground-up development in the city after the Z Garage facility.

The concrete and glass structure was designed by Integrated Design Solutions of Troy with Turner Construction Co. in charge of construction, according to Crain’s. The technology center will include 10,000 square feet of server rooms featuring next-generation air conditioning systems to cool the servers, as well as training, office and support space. A news release by Quicken Loans states that half of the data center will be occupied by the company’s technology staff, while the remaining 33,000 square feet in the building will be available for lease when the center opens next January.

“Developing real estate that meets the needs of our family of companies and our tenants in the city of Detroit is our top priority at Bedrock,” said Jim Ketai, Bedrock Real Estate Services CEO and managing partner. “This is also a great opportunity for another top technology company to secure prime server and training space in Detroit,” he added.

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Rendering via Quicken Loans

Opus Group Breaks Ground on 13-Story Luxury Housing Building in Ann Arbor

14 May 2014, 4:22 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Minnesota-based Opus Group and private investor Dennis Tice, who owns the Pizza House in Ann Arbor’s South University District, have teamed up to develop a new student housing high-rise near the University of Michigan campus.

ArborBLU - luxury student housing

ArborBLU – luxury student housing

Construction at ArborBLU is scheduled to break ground on May 15, roughly five months after the Ann Arbor Planning Commission and City Council approved the partnership’s plans to build a 13-story apartment structure atop the two-story restaurant which is located at 618 Church Street. As reported by MLive.com, two adjacent low-rise buildings—located at 624 Church Street and 1117 Willard Street, respectively—will be demolished to make room for the 83,807-square-foot residential tower.

Marketed as “University of Michigan’s newest luxury student housing” building, ArborBLU will be ready for occupancy in August 2015, just in time for the fall semester. According to Opus, the project was designed by J. Bradley Moore & Associates with Opus AE Group, LLC serving as the architect of record.

Estimated to cost around $17 million and projected to achieve LEED Silver certification, the luxury tower will have 123 urban loft-style apartments totaling 232 beds, offering a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Amenities at ArborBLU will include a fitness studio on the second floor, study space, a rooftop lounge, bike storage, Wi-Fi access, in-house tanning  and free 24-hour delivery from Pizza House.

MLive.com also reveals that Opus and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority negotiated a parking agreement that will allow tenants and a number of Pizza House employees to use nearly 50 spaces from the parking garage on nearby Forest Avenue which is jointly owned by the city and the University of Michigan. According to Ann Arbor’s policies, the developer is allowed to lease parking spaces in the public garage for an initial period of 15 years followed by three five-year extension options.

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Rendering of ArborBLU courtesy of The Opus Group

GM Breaks Ground on New Race Development Center in Pontiac

7 May 2014, 8:16 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

GM Performance and Racing Center - Pontiac MI

GM Performance and Racing Center – Pontiac MI

More than one year after announcing a $200 million investment to build a new 138,000-square-foot test wing in suburban Detroit, General Motors broke ground on a race engine design and development facility at its world powertrain headquarters in Pontiac, MI, the company announced recently.

The GM Performance and Racing Center (GMPRC) will also include an electric motor laboratory and gear center. The state-of-the-art facility is expected to continue to develop the most successful race engines for Chevrolet and Cadillac, while connecting its race engineers with GM’s global powertrain engineering teams to come up with more efficient and durable powertrains.

According to information from the motor company, the 85,000-square-foot GMPRC will become operational in mid-2015, when around 100 engineers and technicians from GM’s race engineering center in Wixom, MI, are expected to relocate to the new facility. At full build-out in early 2016, the new performance and racing center will employ 400 people coming from GM’s soon-to-be-closed facilities in Michigan (Warren), Indiana (Castleton) and California (Torrance)

“The GM Performance and Racing Center will serve as a resource to help our race teams and drivers continue to win races and championships,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, in a press statement. “It will also help advance technical sharing between racing and production engine programs,” he added.

Located at 777 Joslyn Avenue in Pontiac, the 450,000-square-foot GM Powertrain World Headquarters is one of the largest and most technically advanced powertrain development centers in the world. The center brings together more than 3,500 employees working on the design and development of engines, transmissions, hybrid and electric powertrains, and fuel cell technologies.

Meanwhile, GM is currently working on its second supercomputing facility in Metro Detroit which is expected to open officially in about two months. Construction at the GM Milford Proving Ground data center began in May 2013, shortly after the first facility opened in Warren. Totaling $546 million in equipment and infrastructure investment, the two data centers will oversee the company’s IT operations globally while ensuring a smarter and faster work environment.

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Rendering courtesy of General Motors

Newly Renovated Federal Reserve Building to Become Home for Michigan’s Top Newspapers

30 Apr 2014, 5:28 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The former Federal Reserve Building located at 160 W. Fort Street in the heart of downtown Detroit will soon welcome three new tenants, according to the Detroit News.

Federal Reserve Building Detroit

Federal Reserve Building Detroit

Citing a company-wide email sent by Detroit Media Partnership CEO Joyce Jenereaux, the source reports that the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and the media partnership plan to lease six full floors in the recently renovated historic building. Each newsroom will occupy its own floor of a little over 20,000 square feet, with the Free Press on the second and the News on the third. The Detroit Media Partnership and some undisclosed publications will lease the mezzanine and floors six to eight.

According to the quoted email, the newsrooms and the media partnership are expected to move into their new home by the end of September. It is unclear what will happen to the Albert Kahn-designed structure at 615 W. Lafayette Street, where the 141-year-old News has been headquartered since the grand opening in 1917.

The Detroit Media Partnership, which oversees business functions for both the Detroit News and the Free Press, has been looking for a new home for more than a year. According to an older news story by the Free Press, in early 2013 the media partnership announced plans to sell what was known as the “Detroit News Building” and relocate into more modern offices within the following 18 months even if a buyer was not found immediately.

Constructed in 1927 in a Classical Revival style, the structure at 160 W. Fort Street served as the Federal reserve Bank of Chicago Detroit Branch building until 2004 when the bank moved into new offices on Warren Avenue near Eastern Market. An eight-story glass and marble annex was added to the original four-story building during the 1949-1951 expansion.

In January 2012 the vacant asset was purchased by Dan Gilbert through his real estate arm Rock Ventures LLC, marking the billionaire’s ninth acquisition in Detroit. Shortly after changing hands, the 176,000-square-foot building embarked on a renovation and redesign process spearheaded by international architectural firm ROSSETTI—while the firm’s team of architects, planners and designers also relocated into 13,000 square feet on the fourth floor.


Image via Historic Detroit

Walsh College to Start $15 Million Renovation and Expansion Project

16 Apr 2014, 7:59 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A private college in suburban Detroit will embark on an 18-month renovation and expansion that will enhance campus-life experience. The Walsh College Board of Trustees recently approved the $15 million improvement project at the college’s existing campus building that was built in the 1970s.

Walsh College renovation and expansion

Walsh College renovation and expansion

According to a press release from the college, construction at the site located on Livernois Road in Troy is set to begin late this summer. The project is financed by a combination of investment and capital funds and private donations coming from alumni and other investors who will be offered donor-naming opportunities upon completion.

“This initiative underscores Walsh College’s long-term commitment to the growth and vibrancy that we see in southeast Michigan and Troy,” said President and CEO of Walsh College Stephanie Bergeron. “The improvements represent our high-quality educational programs, meet the needs of today’s students, and put a contemporary face on the Walsh College business brand,” she added.

Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates—which also designed Walsh College’s Barry Center—is serving as the architect of the project which is the third and last phase of a complex redesign master plan that started 15 years ago, the Detroit Free Press reports. Under the newly approved redesign plans, Walsh College’s original building will be renovated and expanded into a two-story, 55,000-square foot facility. The stone, metal panel and brick structure will offer a student center focused on business-communication skills development, a student lounge and a student services center. The new facility will also include meeting spaces for private conversations that will allow students to network with each other, simulate workplace environments and connect with potential employers.

The college said it will pursue LEED certification for renovations at the main building, just like the Barry Center which was awarded LEED Gold certification in June 2010.

Walsh College was founded in Troy in 1992 as a private, non-profit business college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees and certificate programs. There are about 4,200 students enrolled at the college’s locations in Troy, Novi, Clinton Township and Port Huron.

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Rendering courtesy of Walsh College

110-Room Hotel and Retail Project Coming to Downtown Ann Arbor

14 Apr 2014, 1:48 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A new hotel is set to rise on a 0.48-acre site at the corner of Huron and Ashley streets in downtown Ann Arbor if the development team receives the green light from the Planning Commission and City Council.

Ann Arbor - hotel and retail project by First Martin Corp.

Ann Arbor – hotel and retail project by First Martin Corp.

Plans for the $20 million project were submitted for review with the city last week by Ann Arbor-based First Martin Corp. The developer hopes to get the go-ahead in two or three months and start construction immediately.

First Martin, which owns the property at 116-120 West Huron Street, wants to replace the site with a 110-room extended-stay hotel that would cater to clients looking for short-term accommodation options. According to MLive.com, the property is currently occupied by two buildings—the Greyhound bus depot and Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors bureau—that will be  demolished as soon as the project is approved. One of the features that make this project unique is the fact that it will preserve a part of the bus depot façade while incorporating the sign into the design.

The plans jointly designed by Zivic & Hurdle Architects of Fairfarx, VA, and Hobbs + Black Architects of Ann Arbor include a seven-story structure that will incorporate a mix of hotel rooms ranging from studios to two-bedroom units, along with a hotel lobby on the first floor, meeting rooms and office space, a restaurant with sidewalk café and an exercise room, as well as a pool and patio. The developer hasn’t announced which national hotel chain was selected for the Ann Arbor location, but the new facility could open as a Residence Inn by Marriott—given Zivic & Hurdle’s vast experience designing hotels for this brand.

As for the project’s retail component, Crain’s Detroit Business reports that it will encompass around 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space along the Huron Street frontage and will be marketed by the Ann Arbor office of Colliers International Inc.

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Rendering credits to Zivic & Hurdle Architects and Hobbs + Black Architects

Downtown Detroit Goes Residential: City Approves First Apartment Projects in Two Decades

8 Apr 2014, 1:11 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The Griswold - designed by Kraemer Design Group

The Griswold – designed by Kraemer Design GroupAs predicted in a market report that Multi-Housing News Online published recently, things are looking up for Detroit’s housing market. Two new apartment projects were approved by the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) which is part of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp (DEGC), marking the first residential buildings to be developed in the downtown area in more than two decades.

The Roxbury Group got the green light to revive a long-stalled condominium project that was put on hold in the early planning stages back in 2008 when the recession hit hard Detroit. Called The Griswold, the project now calls for 80 market-rate units that will be built on top of an existing 10-story parking garage and retail building located at 150 Michigan Avenue, next to the historic Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and within walking distance from Campus Martius. The conceptual plans for the $22 million project were designed by local architecture firm Kraemer Design Group, while Walbridge Aldinger Co. will serve as the construction manager, Crain’s Detroit Business reports. The Griswold will comprise one-, two- and three-bedroom units that will be available for rent in 2015.

Statler City Apartments - designed by BKV Group

Statler City Apartments – designed by BKV Group

The second residential project that was authorized by the DDA board is Statler City, residential building with up to 250 apartments that Farmington Hills-based Village Green Cos. will develop at Washington Boulevard and Park Avenue. According to The Detroit News, the $35 million to $40 million rental building will rise on the site of the former Statler Hotel facing Grand Circus Park. The construction site, which is currently owned by the city, will be transferred to the developer for $1.

According to the DDA board, Statler City was designed by BKV Group of Minneapolis to meet the National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standards. The rental project includes a combination of housing ranging from 400-square-foot “micro-units” designed for young professionals to 1,200-aquare-foot apartments, as well as ground floor retail space, underground parking and a large-scale electronic screen facing Grand Circus Park. Developers estimate that Statler City Apartments could welcome its first residents in 2016.

“We have known for some time that people who want to live Downtown have found it very difficult to find apartments,” said in an official statement George W. Jackson, president and CEO of (DEGC), which will manage final development terms on behalf of the DDA. “These projects will go a long way toward meeting that demand.”

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Renderings via DEGC



Detroit Launches RFP for Housing, Office and Retail Project at Old Tiger Stadium Site

31 Mar 2014, 6:48 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Detroit officials have big plans for Corktown, one of the oldest residential areas in the city and a symbol of the Irish-American community in the region. The site of Tiger Stadium, the neighborhood’s most famous attraction—or what’s left of it, as the place was demolished in 2008—is about to be converted into a vibrant urban development that will honor the history of the site while also serving as a new tax base for the city.

Detroit Tiger Stadium sign

Detroit Tiger Stadium sign

Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue, the venue was designed by Osborn Engineering of Cleveland, OH, and had an initial capacity of 23,000 seats that more than doubled in 1937. The sports venue opened in 1912 as Navin Field (it was later called the Briggs Stadium, and became Tiger Stadium in 1961) to house the Detroit Tigers, one of the Major League Baseball teams.

By the 1970s and 1980s the facility had become one of the most loved sport venues despite its aging structure. Some improvements and additions—such as the Tiger Plaza that was built on an old and underutilized parking lot—were made in early 1990s under Mike Ilitch’s ownership. As the stadium continued to deteriorate, the community suggested several renovation plans but none of the ideas were put into practice. In September 1999 the Detroit Tigers played their final game at Tiger Stadium and moved to Comerika Park shortly after. Over the next decade the vacant stadium continued to deteriorate and became an example of Detroit’s decaying landscape. In 2008 the structure was razed.

Last week the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), which controls the stadium on behalf of the city, issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop the site of the old Tiger Stadium through a combination of retail, residential and office space that would replace two parcels totaling approximately 9.5 acres along the Michigan and Trumbull avenues. According to the RFP, the mixed-use development should consist of approximately 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of retail space and 90 to 100 residential units representing a total of $20 million in private investment. The RFP also states that the proposed development plan already includes a 10,000-square-foot headquarters building for a nonprofit youth sports organization called Detroit PAL, while much of the historic baseball diamond that currently occupies the stadium site will be maintained for youth baseball.

“This vision for the site represents the best combination of input from all the significant stakeholders—the City of Detroit, the Corktown community, and all those who have fond memories of the great baseball games played at Tiger Stadium,” said in a statement George W. Jackson, Jr., president and CEO of DEGC.

The proposals are due in late May. DEGC is expected to announce the selected developer by the end of August 2014.

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Image of Tiger Stadium in Detroit by josephleenovak on Flickr

Developers Add More Housing Units to Growing Midtown Detroit

16 Mar 2014, 3:29 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A Bingham Farms-based real estate management and development company will soon add 12 apartment buildings in the southwest corner of Midtown Detroit.

As reported by Model D, The Slavik Company is moving forward with the sixth phase of construction at Woodbridge Estates—a mixed-income residential community that broke ground more than a decade ago and is bounded by Canfield Street to the north, M-10 to the east, Martin Luther King, Jr. Street to the south and Gibson Street to the west. Woodbridge Estates currently consists of 281 rental units and 51 occupied single-family homes and townhouses.

Slavik’s new development project calls for 12 brand new residential buildings totaling 46 rental units that will be occupied by residents who earn up to 60 percent of the area median income. According to Model D, which quoted Slavik’s vice president Eric Gold, the first units are expected to be ready for occupancy by July 2014. The apartments will be offered for rent with a lease-to-own option (after 15 years of leasing, residents will have the opportunity to buy their apartments).

Tushiya United hebrew School - 609 E Kirby Street

Tushiya United hebrew School – 609 E Kirby Street

Another residential development that is about to break ground in Midtown Detroit is 609 E. Kirby Lofts. The $6.9 million renovation project was announced recently by a partnership between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), two community development finance institutions (Capital Impact Partners and Invest Detroit) and a subsidiary of Midtown Detroit, Inc. called the University Cultural Center Association, a non-profit organization that supports the revitalization of Midtown by encouraging new housing and commercial development in the area.

According to an official statement, the historic Tushiya United Hebrew School located on the 600 block of E. Kirby Street close to Detroit’s Cultural Center will be renovated and converted into 25 market-rate rental apartments by developer Richard Hosey III, who has owned the abandoned property since 2011. The project is expected to welcome its first residents in early 2015.

The two-story Tushiyah United Hebrew School was built in 1922 to serve as the headquarters of the United Hebrew Schoold of Detroit under plans designed by architect Isadore M. Lewis. Seven years later the school closed and the building was sold to the Scott Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church. Over the following decades the building changed hands various times.

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Image via lost Synagogues of Detroit


$11.4 Million Renovation Plan Promises New Life to U-M’s Former Nuclear Building

10 Mar 2014, 3:36 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Ten years after beginning to decommission the Ford Nuclear Reactor, the University of Michigan (U-M) is preparing for a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of the four-story building that is now entirely free of radiation.

The decommissioned building, which is located on U-M’s North Campus in Ann Arbor, was built in 1957 with a $1 million donation from Ford Motor Company. For more than 46 years the 28-foot-deep reactor was used by U-M’s academic researchers strictly for experiments and investigation of the peaceful uses of nuclear power in medicine, chemistry, physics, cellular biology, mineralogy, archeology, anthropology and nuclear science.

The 17,400-square-foot facility was officially shut down in July 2003 because of its extremely high maintenance costs. Ten years later U-M’s Board of Regents renamed the building the Nuclear Engineering Laboratories as the first step of the long-anticipated redevelopment. According to the Detroit Free Press, nuclear research will still be conducted inside the building using a miniaturized particle accelerator instead of the old reactor fueled by uranium-235.

Slated for completion in fall 2015, the $11.4 million redevelopment project will accommodate the expansion needs of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences in the College of Engineering. As detailed in U-M’s plans, the fourth floor of the former nuclear building will be reconverted into 5,200 square feet of office, research and conference space, while the building itself will be fully renovated to house research labs, testing areas and academic support spaces. The architectural firm SmithGroupJJR was selected by the U-M Board of Regents to create the design of the project.

CWD Real Estate Has Plans for New Hotel in Downtown Grand Rapids

3 Mar 2014, 10:05 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


CWD Real Estate - hotel project in Grand Rapids MI

CWD Real Estate – hotel project in Grand Rapids MI

With business going strong in the Grand Rapids area, the demand of more hotel space is growing as well. A new hotel project was announced earlier this month by CWD Real Estate Investment, the city’s largest real estate investment and property management firm.

The yet-to-be-named hotel will occupy an existing surface parking lot at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Louis Street NW and will be connected to 50 Monroe, a modern office building that was acquired by CWD in March 2012. As reported by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the parking lot was purchased by CWD in April 2012.

“This site, which is literally in the center of our City, has been a parking lot for at least 30 years,” said in an official statement CWD co-managing partner, Sam Cummings. “We are thrilled with the prospect of adding an iconic structure to this important location and we hope to submit plans to the City of Grand Rapids Planning Department by late spring for construction to begin later this year.”

The conceptual plans were created by wHY Design’s internationally acclaimed architect Kulapat Yantrasast, who also designed the Grand Rapids Art Museum—a 125,000-square-foot ‘green’ building that became the first art museum in the world to receive LEED certification for environmental design.

According to the developer, the five-story hotel will include up to 150 rooms for guests who wish to stay five nights or more, as well as retail, restaurants and potentially residential units as part of a mixed-use project that aims to consolidate the city’s downtown area and the place to work, live and relax.

This is CWD’s first hotel project in Grand Rapids and comes shortly after the completion of renovations at the Ledyard Building, the Trust Building and 50 Louis, which also serves as the company’s new headquarters.

Click here for more market data for the Detroit area.

Rendering via CWD Real Estate

New Kellogg Service Center to create 600 Jobs in Grand Rapids

20 Feb 2014, 4:38 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Kellogg, the multinational cereal maker headquartered in Battle Creek, MI, announced plans for a regional service center in Grand Rapids that is part of the company’s four-year restructuring and efficiency program known as “Project K.”

5300 Patterson Avenue SE – Grand Rapids MI

The Global Business Services facility will be located at 5300 Patterson Avenue SE in a 395,000-square-foot office and industrial building that housed religious books seller Zondervan Publishing until 2013. According to the Grand Rapids Business Journal, Chicago-based investors Franklin Partners acquired the building in May last year in a $13.5 million deal that was brokered by Colliers International. In an effort to follow the market’s demand at the time, the new owners later went on to divide the mega-structure into two facilities, offering 100,000 square feet of Class A office space in one building and 200,000 square feet of industrial space in the other.

“Grand Rapids is a vibrant community and urban center of a growing region of more than 1 million people,” Kellogg President and CEO John Bryant said in a press statement. “As Michigan’s second-largest city, and a short distance from our headquarters, Grand Rapids is known for its proximity to major markets—including Chicago and Detroit—as well as affordable commercial space and a highly qualified workforce,” Bryant added.

MLive.com says Kellogg currently has two baking facilities in the Grand Rapids area: one is located at 310 28th Street Southeast and produces “Pop Tart” and “Special K” bars, and the other facility is located at 5353 Broadmoor Avenue Southeast and produces snack bars.

Kellogg, which has over 2,000 employees in Battle Creek, is expected to add 300 to 600 new hires in Grand Rapids—with roles varying from finance and information technology to supply chain and human resources—where it will fully occupy Franklin Partners’ 100,000-square-foot office building. According to an official statement from the company, the new regional service center is expected to open in the third quarter of 2014 when around 50 finance employees will relocate from the Battle Creek offices. The facility will become fully operational in 2016.

Image courtesy of Franklin partners

Friedman-led JV Grabs 430 KSF at Arboretum Office Park

13 Feb 2014, 3:58 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Arboretum Office Park – Farmington Hills, MI

Arboretum Office Park, a 600,000-square-foot business complex located at 34405-34605 W. Twelve Mile Road in Farmington Hills, was almost fully sold to a private partnership called Arboretum Acquisitions LLC.

As reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, the joint venture between Farmington Hills-based Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions and Kojaian Management Corp. of Bloomfield Hills (which was described as a “silent partner” with no leasing, management or construction role in the deal) recently purchased almost three quarters of the business complex in a $10 million transaction that was brokered by Jones Lang LaSalle on behalf of the owner. According to the news source, the asset was previously owned by Burton-Katzman LLC of Bingham Farms.

The Friedman/Kojaian partnership now owns four office buildings—Arboretum I (115,000 square feet), Arboretum II (129,000 square feet), Arboretum III (163,000 square feet) and Arboretum R (20,000 square feet)­—totaling around 430,000 square feet of space along the Twelve Mile Corridor in Farmington Hills, just 30 minutes from Downtown Detroit. The four buildings are interconnected by enclosed walkways, allowing for convenient transit throughout the complex. The office spaces available for lease range from 1,000 to 350,000 square feet, including a corporate headquarters facility with visibility from I-696 and Twelve Mile Road. According to an official statement, Friedman plans new landscaping, as well as renovating the buildings’ exteriors and remodeling lobbies with high-end modern finishes.

Arboretum IV, the 114,000-square-foot building that wasn’t included in the sale and is still owned by Burton-Katzman LLC, is 69 percent leased and continues to be managed by Signature Associates Inc. of Southfield, MI.


Image via Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions

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