Monday, December 21, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day.

I've been by this house on Adelaide in Brush Park numerous times over the years, and have even taken a few pictures of it from time to time. However, it wasn't until today that I learned a bit about the home's history. According to the book Home In Detroit the famous comedian/actor Danny Thomas and his wife Rose Marie Mantell Thomas lived here beginning in 1936. The photos below show the home in 2004 and again in 2009.

*Special Note* a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Home in Detroit are being donated to Motor City Blight Busters.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MLS to Detroit?

Hot on the heels of an announcement that Detroit would be receiving a USL-1 expansion team, more soccer news broke today related to the auctioning off of the Pontiac Silverdome.

A Toronto real estate company has submitted a winning bid of $583,000 for the property. The company plans to use the facility for a Major League Soccer team and a women's professional soccer team.

This could be a case of Pontiac’s emergency financial manage getting it wrong in his interview with the Free Press. MLS did not included Detroit in its next round of expansion, so he may be confused about to the team's position in the US soccer pyramid. He may have assumed professional soccer = MLS.

**A senior vice president of marketing and communications for MLS confirmed that there hasn't been any recent discussion about placing a team in the Detroit area. The Detroit News quotes Dan Courtemanche: "We've had very preliminary talks in years past, but nothing in the last six to 12 months of substance."**

It is not known if the real estate company is working in concert with Michigan Bucks (PDL) owner Dan Duggan, the presumed owner of the new USL-1 franchise. I doubt that Detroit would get a USL-1 Team and a MLS franchise.

In my opinion, If Duggan is involved, he will be the owner of a USL-1 Team. The Toronto company will probably run the Silverdome and lease it to Duggan or be a part of the team's ownership group. When Duggan's MLS Detroit campaign failed, he publicly stated that his new plan would be to pursue a USL-1 team with the hope that that team would be eventually promoted to MLS like the Seattle Sounders were.

Of course there could be an entirely different entity involved. Details are thin at this point and only time will tell.

**The Free Press has confirmed that Dan Duggan is not involved with the investment group. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and how this will affect the USL's plans to bring a team to the Detroit area.**

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spaulding Court

The Corktown Residents’ Council is working with residents to retake the Spaulding Court apartment complex on Rosa Parks. The century old property has long been abandoned by its owner and is unoccupied, except for two units. The group has launched a Nuisance Abatement suit against the owners and a default judgement is likely.

In October community members cleaned up the site, sealed the unoccupied units, and illuminated the grounds.

It is likely that the complex will be seized and the title will be transferred to Wayne County. It is hoped that the land bank will sell the property to the Greater Corktown Development Corporation for redevelopment.

 Check out Spauding Court in 2003 from detroitpix.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Detrot to Get USL-1 Soccer Team

Buzz is starting to build about Detroit getting a United Soccer League First Division expansion team. USL-1 is one level below MLS.

I haven't seen any coverage from the Mainstream media, but there was a reference to the team in a USL press release. At this point, it is not apparent whether the franchise will be built upon a promoted Michigan Bucks (PDL) team or a new organization.

It is also unclear where the new team will be based. From what I've read, USL requires a 5,000 seat stadium. If Bucks owner Dan Duggan is involved, a stadium could be built behind the team's "Ultimate Soccer Arenas" home in Pontiac. The team could find a temporary home to play in at a high school stadium in the area. Recently, the Bucks played their home games at Stoney Creek High School. Prior to that, they called Berkley's Hurley Field home. That field only holds 3,500 spectators, but additional bleachers were brought in when the Bucks hosted the NY/NJ Metro Stars in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup in 2003.

Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stripped Down

Work continues on the conversion of the Franklin Furniture building into a high school affiliated with the University Prep Science and Math Middle School. It doesn't look like there will be anything "Albert Kahn" remaining, except for the steel reinforced concrete skeleton.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Despite holding a ribbon cutting ceremony almost three weeks ago. William G. Milliken State Park (formerly Tricentennial State Park) remains closed to the public.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Tower to Get New, Green Life?

Key Investment Group of Canton says it has signed a contract with the owners of the empty Book Tower and Book Building to renovate the structures which have been vacant since January. They plan to turn it into 260 green-friendly residences along with retail space.

The development will include a new copper roof, a green roof plaza, and a restoration of an interior atrium. The facade will be completely cleaned as well. Work is slated to begin in June and the group intends to eventually purchase the building.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enjoying Some Cider

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Hellas, No More!

New Hellas Cafe was demolished a few weeks ago. The 107 year old cafe closed in the spring of 2008. It was the oldest Greek restaurant in Detroit. Former business partners Jim Papas and Ted Gatzaros have waged a legal battle over the property after Gatzaros wanted to use the property to house an Italian restaurant. No explanation for the demolition has been reported. Rumors, however, suggest that a new three story building will rise to take its place

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Renaissance Center B.A.S.E Jump

I was recently refered to this clip from danpushies shot during Ren-Cen's Pre-GM days. Notice no river walk, Beaubien garage, etc..

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rosa Parks Transit Center Coverage From Model D TV

Olympia Clueless About What to Do With Fine Arts Facade

It seems that everyone greatest fears are true. The facade to the Fine Arts building is being shored up with no definitive plans to build anything behind it. It is being "preserved for future reuse" kinda like the site of the former Madison-Lenox is being preserved with a parking lot.

Atanas Ilitch is "confident that the facade of the historic Fine Arts Building can be preserved and ultimately integrated into a new development that will occupy the site at some point in the future." Are you freaking kidding me? Olympia knocked a building down with no plans in place. How long do they plan to leave the facade twisting in the wind? I predict that the building and safety department will eventually decide that it is unsafe and demand that it be pulled down.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Loft Conversion Rethink

Back in the spring of 2007 developers announced plans to convert the Detroit Elevator Building in Rivertown into 23 condo units. The project was to be completed in the summer of 2008. Needless to say, with the housing market collapse, that never happened.

This summer plans for the building were revised and construction has begun on what will now be a small business incubator. The building will contain 24 units plus common areas including a kitchen and showering facilities.

Facade construction and interior demolition on the Elevator Building will be completed this fall and units should be ready by spring 2010.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Can Lightning Strike Twice?

The Ferchill Group is continuing its effort to redevelop a downtown strip centered along Washington Boulevard. The company responsible for saving the Book Cadillac will be lending its money and know-how to another Book building, this time the Book Tower. The building has been shuttered since the beginning of 2009 when the building 's owners filed for Chapter 11.

The Ferchill Group determined that is was not possible financially to save the Lafayette Building due to a funding gap of around $11 million. Profits from the building wouldn't have covered the cost of the restoration. The Book Tower doesn't appear to have that problem and Ferchill will embark on an $87 million renovation of the 38 story building.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Cass Tech to be Demolished

DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb mentioned today on "Inside Detroit" that the district will be using stimulus money to demolish the Old Cass Tech building. Alumni previously stepped in to forestall demolition plans when the new high school was completed. However, no redevelopment plans have ever been put forth and this time around the school's fate seems sealed.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gold Cup 100 Alpha

The 100th running of the Gold Cup was postponed last year due to high winds. After a year's wait, the thunder returned to the Detroit River this past weekend. VIEW LARGE

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Toledo Strip

Earlier in the week I spent some time in the territory of Michigan's former posession near the mouth of the Maumee River. Please enjoy some action shots of the Toledo Mud Hens vs the Louisville Bats at 5/3 Field.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Rosa Parks Transit Center Almost Ready

The sails have been hoisted and the maiden voyage is set for July 14th with a grand opening celebration.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tricentennial Park Extension

Things are looking good at the wetlands extension between Rivard Plaza and the Harbor. This just might end up being my favorite section of the RiverWalk.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lafayette Building Next to Fall

The 1923 C. Howard Crane designed Lafayette Building could meet the wrecking ball within the next two weeks thanks to a unanimous vote by the Detroit Downtown Development Authority. Detroit-based Adamo Demolition Company will eliminate the historic building for a fee of $1,445,888. The building will be replaced by a "pocket park" of grass and shrubbery.

Monday, June 08, 2009

New Use for Franklin Furniture Building

The Thompson Education Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan recently announced funding for a 94,000 square-foot high school tied to the University Prep Science and Math Middle School in Detroit. The Albert Kahn designed Franklin Furniture building in Rivertown will be renovated to house the high school in time for the 2010-2011 school year.

The building as it looks today.

Click over to Model D for the rendering.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rosa Parks Transit Center Sails=Fail

The first of the Transit Center's canopies went up this week and it has already been shredded by the high winds and rain from Wednesday night's thunderstorms. The center is already behind schedule and over budget. One can only guess how much this failure is going to set the project back.

Hot Fudge Detroit has the coverage.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Beyond Greektown

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shield's Pizza to Abandon Detroit Again?

Over two and a half years ago Shield's Pizza announced their return to the city after an absence of two decades. Work began in the lobby of the Kales building, but as the months went by, numerous opening day announcements went unmet.

In June of 2008 Owner Paul Andoni addressed the delays. Apparently, construction stalled due to an issue with the exhaust ventilation that necessitated the installation of a 19-story shaft to the roof. At that time it Andoni stated that the restaurant would open by mid-September.

Nearly a year later, it is apparent that no further work has been done on the restaurant. At the begining of April the site was in the same unfinished state that it had been when Andoni made his most recent proclimation. A sign on the door states "construction has been haulted." It remains to be seen if Shield's will ever return to downtown Detroit.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ghetto Driving

Traffic backed up? No Exit? No Problem!

Instead of exhibiting traditional unsafe driving skills by reversing up an entrance ramp, these drivers on the Southfield near Schoolcraft decided to do something new. Tens of drivers opted to make their own exit by driving over a fence to gain access to the service drive.