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Tuesday, 1 October, 2013 10:58 AM
Crain's House Party offers a rare glimpse into Detroit's new residential living options
The bedroom of a condo on the 24th floor of the Westin Book Cadillac Residences.
DETROIT -- Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Detroit? Crain's Detroit had a house party with six neighborhood tours to answer that very question. The six tours included: Midtown bus tour; Corktown tour; People Mover tour; Midtown walking tour, East side bus tour; and Lafayette Park/Eastern Market bus tour.
We chose the People Mover tour and met at Cobo Center. Our tour guide was Sean. "A lot of people write off Detroit," he says. As we rode the people mover he pointed out several points of interest. "More and more companies are moving downtown and are offering incentives to live near your work," Sean explained.
We got off at the Michigan Avenue station and walked towards Washington Boulevard. Sean pointed out that Washington Boulevard was renovated and became a boulevard again before the Super Bowl. Then we walked into the Book Cadillac Building which originally opened in 1924 and now houses the Westin Hotel and condominiums. We went up to a 24th floor condo which costs in the range of $260,000-$300,000. "Most modern buildings in the city has modern furnishings," says Sean. The place was beautiful and had the most exquisite views.
Then we walked past the Book Building, which is visually interesting with beautiful ornamentation on the bottom, middle and top of the building. The building has two sections which includes the tower. It was supposed to be much taller, but the Depression hit. This is one of the pre-Depression buildings. "In 1805, every building in Detroit burned to the ground. That was 100 years before the great fires of Chicago, San Francisco, etc. Thomas Jefferson named Augustus B. Woodward to be the first Chief Justice of Michigan Territory to rebuild Detroit. As a result, Woodward Avenue was named after him. His vision was to have a central park, which is now Campus Martius, and have roads come out from there as spokes from a wheel.
Capitol Park is one of the oldest districts in downtown Detroit. It was formerly a transit center until Rosa Parks Transit Center was built in 2009. A couple of years ago, the park was renovated and is the next phase to breathe new life into the city.
As we walked towards Woodward Avenue, Sean pointed out the D:Hive Headquarters (Welcome Center) which is the front line for interacting with people who want to move, work or just have fun in the city. People can stop in when you want to find anything you want to do in Detroit at any given time. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They have free internet for guests to use. They have a Build Program which teaches you the intricacies of launching a business.
Here's a tidbit of news. Potbelly Restaurant is coming soon to downtown. There will be more housing being built on the old Hudson's site with ground level retail shops. There are lots of street life popping up. Moosejaw opened up a pop-up store at 1275 Woodward. Sales were so good that they decided to become a permanent fixture. This store is for the camping, hiking, skiing and rock climbing enthusiasts.
The David Whitney Building is also currently being renovated. It had a soaring four-story marble lobby which contained a large retail atrium. It will become the Aloft Hotel when finished in the first quarter of 2014. The hotel will be from the second through ninth floors and will have 108 condo units from the tenth floor to the nineteenth.
We walked into the 1917 Madison Theatre Building, which was given a $12 million makeover. The Chez Zara Coffee Shop moved in on the street level in November 2011. The Detroit Venture Partners rents the second floor which is a center for entrepreneurship providing eco-systems start ups for companies. The entire building houses all software companies. Quikly.com is one such start-up company which studies behavior on black Friday. "Brands and retailers pursue us," says the company spokesman. They study consumer psychology into a marketing platform and help bring in new customers. The Madison Building is like a Tech hub for entrepreneurs. A Twitter branch is also located here. Chalkfly.com is another example. They offer office and school supplies online. If you buy supplies online, the company gives five percent to your favorite teacher. They offer over 150,000 products and has 52 distribution facilities which offer next-day delivery and free shipping and returns.
The next stop was the Broderick Tower right next door to the Madison Building. Broderick Tower was completed in 1928 and was designed by famed architect Louis Kemper. It was completely restored to look like the 1920's. Black marble walls line the lobby with a beautiful ceiling and fine lighting. There are 34 stories with two basement floors. We toured an apartment and a penthouse there. There is 100 percent occupancy since they opened and currently have a waiting list. Currently the Sports Town Grill occupies the street level floor.
We then walked to the Broadway district which is the second largest theatre district in the world after Broadway in New York. We hopped on the people mover back to Cobo and arrived at 7:30 p.m for the Afterglow party in the Grand Ballroom of Cobo Center. This new glass-enclosed ballroom with an open-air terrace has breathtaking views of the riverfront and Canada. With a new state-of-the-art kitchen and a Star chef, this facility seats up to 2,400. The menu for the evening included Michigan and Caesar salads, shooter soups of spicy butternut squash or tomato basil with parmesan crisp; short ribs with sweet potato risotto and green and yellow beans; petit chicken roulade with herb, apple and Andouille stuffing and cider glaze and a dessert table.
Mary Kramer, publisher for Crain's Detroit Business, was the first speaker and she mentioned that we were the first event to use this space at the Grand Ballroom. Scott Woosley, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority says that home prices are up 17 percent and there is a 97 percent occupancy rate in downtown Detroit adding 12,000 new jobs the city. We received millions of dollars from the federal government to fight blight, hire police officers and build a new transit system. John Marcicky, corporate partnerships manager Opportunity Detroit, says we want to encourage people to live downtown because there are lots of good things happening here.
Beautiful view of downtown Detroit
Gift shop inside Westin Book Cadillac
The Motor Bar inside the Westin
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