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Allan

Durant Hotel

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Here is yet the latest proposal for the Durant Hotel in downtown Flint. This would be great for the area. Hopefully it would spark the revitalization of the nearby area, which is one of the worst areas in the city. I'll get a pic, but you all have to wait until I get home.

durant-rend-5.jpg

Developer agrees to buy long-closed Durant Hotel

THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION

Friday, January 16, 2004

By James M. Miller

JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Flint - Yet another plan is afoot to convert the crumbling Durant Hotel into housing.

And there are plans for a possible coffee shop across the street.

Alfred Kloss, owner of Daystar Development, has an agreement to buy the Durant, closed for 30 years, and Uptown Reinvestment Corp. has bought the McDonald's restaurant across the street that closed in April.

Kloss owns the Dryden, Ferris and 432 buildings on S. Saginaw Street downtown and is a partner in Uptown Developments, an investor group that owns the Republic Bank building and several other downtown buildings.

He said the purchase agreement for the hotel is not final, and he declined to reveal the sale price. He said he is working on an agreement with a developer, but it's too early to discuss details.

The plan is to use the building for housing, with some shops on the first floor, as the hotel had when it opened in 1920.

There have been several proposals over the years to renovate the hotel for apartments or other housing. A plan to convert the building for senior citizen housing ended in 2000 after the City Council failed to support a federal loan to help fund the proposal.

Meanwhile, the eight-story brick building sits as it has for years: with its first floor boarded up and its upper-level windows open to the elements.

Tim Herman, head of Uptown Reinvestment Corp., said Uptown bought the former McDonald's at King Avenue and N. Saginaw Street to have a voice in what will go there next. Uptown Reinvestments is one of the partners in Uptown Developments.

Herman said the broker who handled the sale said there was a lot of interest in the 3,150-square-foot restaurant because the one-story building is only about 8 years old.

He said he would like to see another restaurant or a coffee shop open at the site.

When the Durant Hotel was listed with a real estate agent in 2002, the asking price was $375,000.

At that time, a tour showed that some areas of the hotel appeared to be in good condition, but other areas showed serious damage. Part of a brick wall near the kitchen area and a small section of the roof nearby had collapsed.

When it was built 84 years ago, the Durant was the city's biggest and grandest hotel. It was named for William C. "Billy" Durant, founder of General Motors.

Pick Hotels bought the Durant in 1942 and renamed it the Pick-Durant Hotel around 1964. It closed in 1973.

In 1993, the hotel was purchased at a tax sale by Kumar Vemulapalli, current owner of the area's tallest building, downtown's troubled Genesee Towers. He donated the hotel to Odyssey House in 1995.

***

QUICK FACTS

Durant Hotel

Location: Second Avenue, between N. Saginaw Street and King Avenue, downtown Flint

Built: 1920

Closed: 1973

Rooms: 264

***

James M. Miller covers business and automotive issues. He can be reached at (810) 766-6318 or [email protected]

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Guest donaltopablo

I like this trend of redeveloping old hotels. Seems to be a hot trend, but it also seems very few of them come to market. I hope this one makes it.

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There have been many proposals for the hotel over the years. There seems to be a lot of developer interest in the hotel, it's just that nothing ever seems to happen with the place. Hopefully this will be different, and this can go forward.

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But back to the topic - it would be great if they could get this going. It would better connect downtown on both sides of the river with this side being more residential (with the refurbishing of historic homes in Carriage Town and the Manhattan Lofts, etc.)

I think there's a better chance of something happening this time since it's actually a real developer that's trying to buy the building. The other proposals came from individuals and non-profit agencies...

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The Durant Hotel is the brick building in the back ground with all the broken out windows. I have some better pics, but I have to upload them first.

S_DSCN4411.JPG

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The pic isn't working AGAIN :angry:. I guess I need to pay to get a reliable photo host.

Anyway, in most pics it does look isolated. It is on it's own little island of land there. I hope this proposal goes though. It would be great for the downtown area. The area needs the density that the building provides too. They better not demolish it.

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Actually lots of basketball players come from Flint. Part of the reason is that the schools can't afford to buy equipment for gym class, so all they ever do is play basketball. Some of the Flint high school teams are very good, no doubt because all they ever do is play basketball - both inside & outside school.

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I found this page with photos of the Durant Hotel interior.

http://www.ghostzoo.com/pick.html

There are all kinds of stories about mobsters & the Durant. There are also tunnels leading from the Durant to U of M Flint. U-M is now where the State Theater used to be, and the tunnels originally allowed VIPs to go from the theater to their hotel rooms without being bothered.

The Durant is known for being haunted, and up until September 2001 there were caskets in the basement.

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Thanks for the link! :) Those pictures show just how much work would need to be done on the Durant to make it functional again. It looks like it the interior had been very lavish and elaborate, but it might be better at this point to just bulldoze the hotel so the property can be used for something better.

Unless someone can convince Trump to plunk down about $100 mil for renovations. :P

Why were there caskets in the Durant until 2001? It closed long before 2001, didn't it? By U of M, which part of U of M do you mean? The White Building or the main part of the campus? The tunnels to the main part of the campus would have had to be very deep to go under the river.

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Nice find! I've never heard of that site.

The Durant does look pretty bad. The hallways look confining, too, but that's probably partially because of all of the debris.

I did a little research and found this:

When a Florida developer proposed converting the Durant into senior apartments in 2000, it was considered an $11 million project. The project didn't go through because the city would have had to loan a little over $3 million to the developers.

I wonder what that area would look like now if the building had been renovated and occupied.

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More lively, that's for sure. The building where the Mega Coney Island is now probably would have had a new occupant long ago, with more people living in such a close proximity to downtown, and not enough restaurants in the immediate area.

If the Durant is ever revitalized, I would like the see the front entrance of the Durant renovated so that it's almost like a winter garden. I think the second floor banisters are stone, and that would work really well with a winter garden.

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That sounds nice. I'd like to see the storefronts around the building and in Northbank's parking ramp put back to use, too.

There used to be a Days Inn on the site of Mega Coney Island. Downtown could use a new, smaller hotel since the Character Inn isn't even an option for most people except for a few days out of the year. That would've been a nice spot for one. Maybe then that gap in the streetfront could be filled in.

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I have not been into the Durant yet, so I can't tell you how the structure is holding up. Provided that the structure is still sound, the building is definately a good candidate for renovation. Most of the original details are probably there, or simply covered over. Sure, the corridors are narrow, and the rooms...well they are probably about 1/3 the size of a hotel room today, but all that crap has to be taken out anyway.

As to why there were caskets in the basement...you've got me stumped. There was a bar in the basement for many years. The basement was also where the mobsters hung out during the days of prohibition.

I'm not sure where exactly the tunnel is, but I will try to find out. The old State Theater was one building south of where the Blackstone Department Store was (the same block as the Mott Foundation Building). The State was originally three stories, but had its third story taken off in a renovation when they turned it into retail. A third story window can still be seen on the back. Anyway, I don't see how or why they would build a tunnel that far...under the river & under the Mott Foundation Building? I don't think so! Maybe there was another closer theater, or maybe the tunnel just leads to Northbank Center. Who knows.

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I've always thought the Durant looked like a mini Statler. It has the limestone base with the brick above, and it is v-shaped. Haha. I wish I knew more info about it.

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My memory eludes me at the moment. Is the State Theater the building at the corner of Saginaw and 2nd st, or was the theater in the middle of the block? I was thinking that the State Theater was on that block, but after reading about the tunnel I knew that it couldn't be there, lol. I guess somebody will have to find out more about this tunnel. I'm not sure it would even be favorable to travel in a tunnel that long just to avoid people.

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The theater was in the middle of the block. There were three theaters on that block, the State, the Strand, and then the one on the corner.

I know the email of a guy who has the blueprints, but that would take all the fun out of learning the answer.

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I think the tunnel story is unlikely - there just wouldn't be much need for one. At one point First Ward Park, directly in front of the Durant, had public bathrooms below street grade. I don't think these connected to the hotel though.

As for possible renovations, I think the price tag is in the 14-15 million dollar range now. The building had been optioned by Asheville-based Public Interest Partnerships, but tax liens and other issues have slowed the project.

As for the caskets, I don't think that's the case. I've been in the building several times since the late 80s up until fall of 2003 and explored most if not all of the building. Never saw a casket, or much else for that matter. About the most interesting non-architectural feature was the old Purple Cow sign in a basement hallway.

Joel

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First, welcome to the forum!

Thanks for the additional info. About how long ago was the Asheville company working to renovate the building?

Re: Allan

Now I see why Uptown wants to renovate the block as an "Entertainment block". And I finally know the name of this building:

downtown_flint-07-2005-05-08.jpg

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When do they plan on purchasing and refurbishing the entertainment block ?

The Land Bank Center has added so much beauty and style to downtown, I can't wait until Uptown starts on the "500 Block Project", It'll add even more style to downtown.

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From Allan's description, I assume it's the former State Theater. It's on the Mott Block, but the picture is showing the back of it on Brush Alley. Where I was standing when took the pic was on Harrison St., very close and to the south of Genesee Towers.

Pachuco, I haven't heard any details of what's planned for the Mott Block. If they own those, I hope they don't just let them sit until they've finished working on others.

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