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Lafayette Building Slated for Renovation

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Lafayette Building to transform into condominiums

Detroit officials tap Fla. developers for $40 million project that includes commercial space.

By R.J. King / The Detroit News

Please read the forum rules about posting news clippings.

http://www.detnews.com/2005/realestate/050.../C01-222525.htm

Sounds great! Hopefully this won't fall through.

Photo courtesy forgottenmichigan.com

a01_jpg.jpg

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Can you imagine how much life will be full blown back into the street level on that block? The Lafayette Building is easily overlooked when downtown. I barely ever know it is there. I have a feeling once the renovation is complete, it'll be like having a whole new building downtown!

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If they pull through with the deal the American and Lafeyette Coney Island's business will grow greatly, but I'm not going to get all excited over this until I can see the finished product. Even though I already am excited about this development.

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I think this is great news. Campus Martius is causing lots of spinoff and looks like it has become a great catalyst for downtown. More residents means more retail which also means more businesses could make their home downtown. This is very exciting. A great building in a great central location.

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This is great. Although because this is Detroit, the city will probably tear down the Book-Cadillac to build a parking structure for the Lafayette.

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This is great.  Although because this is Detroit, the city will probably tear down the Book-Cadillac to build a parking structure for the Lafayette.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Optimism, just floating in the air.....

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Haha. In all seriousness though, the building needs dedicated parking. Banks don't like to lend on residential projects in cities like Detroit unless there is dedicated parking.

There are really two options that come to mind. The first is building a parking ramp on the lot at Lafayette & Shelby. It is right across the street from the Lafayette Building's front door. The second is building a parking ramp on the site of the old Kinsell Drug Store at Michigan & Griswold. The ramp could service the old Detroit Commerce Building directly across the street, as well as the tenants in the Lafayette Building. Such a ramp might also help in the redevelopment of the Capitol Park Building, and would help to boost occupancy in the David Stott Building. The new ramp would also provide for retail space at that corner. While I don't like the idea of putting a parking ramp at such a prominent corner, the location is the better of the two logical locations, simply because it could serve the most buildings, reducing the need to tear down buildings for parking garages in the future.

I have heard, unfortunately, that the city is talking about possibly demolishing the Detroit Commerce Building to build a parking structure for the Lafayette Building, and, if it is ever completed, the Book-Cadillac Hotel. To me this makes no sense, since the Book-Cadillac is supposed to have a garage at Washington & State. But what do I know about this city's parking obsession? I guess that's what we get for having no sort of viable mass transit system.

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Here's another option for parking.

There are 4 floors on the bottom that can be used for the building's parking and you can still leave room for small ground floor retail. This is what they are doing for Willy's Overland and is a great use of space since no one really wants the lower floors any way. Everyone wants convienent parking for where they live and how much more convienient can you get? Honestly, there is a lot of space on those bottom floors and you're not going to find a retail place large enough to cover all of it. I really think this is the best solution and it should be more than enough to cover parking for the residents.

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I completely agree Baldy. When I first posted that image, I thought, "what the heck are they going to do with all of that space below?" It just didn't seem suitable on the lower levels for residential living. I'm fairly positive the Lafayette could be retrofitted at the bottom for a parking ramp. And then leave the first floor for retail like you said.

I believe parking is necessary for this renovation project to be feasible. This isn't NYC where people don't need cars. The units will not fill up if there is no parking.

Allan, does this building have a basement?

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The building does have a basement. They could put parking down there. Ideally they'd put parking in the basement, leave the first floor for retail, and then put parking on the second & third floors. However, because I know nothing about the building's structure, I don't know if it's possible. It would most likely require some reengineering, since the building was not designed to have 150 cars driving around inside of it.

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But what do I know about this city's parking obsession?  I guess that's what we get for having no sort of viable mass transit system.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's no excuse, though and should not be accepted. You just listed a few very viable options, Allan, so if the city ever chose demolition of ANOTHER histroric building, then their heads are certainly not on straight.

Maybe a better excuse would be, that's what we get for having so many abandoned buildings...because if they were occupied, then the beast wouldn't look at them like they were prey!

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I like the idea of putting parking in the basement and 2nd and 3rd floors of retail space. It almost seems like every major building or project in Detroit needs a seperate parking facility. I just like the idea of everything being self contained and it still allows for some retail which will also help the area.

Just curious. How much more expensive is it to build underground parking for projects instead of a completely different structure?

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Going underground for parking is much more expensive than building a separate structure. We don't see much underground parking in Detroit because the land values don't justify digging down for parking. It's much cheaper to just build a separate above ground structure.

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Does anyone think the selling price of 200,000 dollars was a bit low? I love the idea of any old building being productive. What are the details? and BTW, last week when I saw the Book Caddy buiding, it looked like it was cracking down the midde. My gues, and it's only a guess, is that no developer will be able to save it- once they realize how much it will cost it will either take hundreds of folks willing to invest or it will go the way much of downtown has gone- parking lots. I would love to see at least some of the buildings saved, even if we have to take it upon ourselves, but hundreds of millions of dollars is quite a task even for developers.

That building was built in 1924 and is in a good location though, maybe, just maybe it will insert some life back into the area spurring more much needed development in that area.

Peace from DetroitBazaar

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$200,000 may be a steal anywhere else, but in a city which is just now realizing it's downtown housing market this seems about right and will allow and easy first wave of new residents to poor in.

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The Lafayette is going for $200,000, but Lee Plaza is going for $600,000. That doesn't even make sense! At least the Lafayette has windows....

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The Lafayette also has a very nice downtown location while Lee Plaza is a ways away from everything in midtown. They will have to drop the price on LP if they want to sell it.

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They sure will. Also, the area it's in is pretty rough. I suspect it will take years before the building is back up to a good use. I suspect that it may go through a few transitions before it is able to go condo or hotel. I figure that someone will buy it within the next few years but will make it a senior apartment tower again, or an affordable apartment tower.

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While the Lee Plaza is in a neighborhood that isn't that great, its chances for redevelopment are helped because it is on the boulevard. It would be doomed for sure if it were on some little sidestreet. The condition of Lee Plaza does concern me though. The lack of windows is causing the building to deteriorate very quickly. The building has been closed since 1995, but scavengers have been in there since 2000. The cost of the renovation depends largely on how many of the details they would try to replicate. Most of the original interior details are still in place, but have been damaged. The ceiling in the lobby & Peacock Alley has hundreds, if not thosands of holes in it from scavengers removing the details to sell. The Dining Room, Ballroom, and two lounges are in better shape.

The rooms upstairs are much larger than the rooms in the Statler, Fort-Shelby, and Book-Cadillac since it was originally a residential hotel. As such, it would make ideal housing for senior citizens. The rooms are large enough but not overly cramped, and each suite has a kitchen & bathroom. Some of the units are larger, and include a separate bedroom. The units with a bedroom are probably around 450 square feet, while the smaller units are probably 350 square feet.

From what I understand, most of the lions and other scavenged details are held in a DPD lockup. Some of them have not been recovered, but it helps that most have.

I agree with Lmich in that there is a good chance that we will see it turned into senior citizen housing before it is turned into luxury apartments or condos since the floorplan is suited for such uses without having to move every single wall.

The Lafayette is in much better condition than Lee Plaza. There is some water damage on the lower levels from the poor condition of the roof above the entrance off Shelby Street. Still, most of the original details on the main floor remain in place, and those that are gone could be replicated. There is a nice ceiling dome above the entrance, and about 1/4 of it is gone. The ground floor was used as a retail promenade, and the configuration of the space seems to be original. The upper floors are typical of 1920s office buildings, with the standard 10 foot ceilings. Dropped ceilings have been installed in most areas, bringing the ceiling down about 18 inches. The office space was remodeled in the 1960s, but the space was pretty plain to begin with, so there wasn't much lost. The building is generally in very good condition, since it was last used in 1998, and because unlike other buildings the city owns (Lee Plaza, for instance) they have fortified the building quite well, keeping most people out.

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I'm still baffled by the 600K price for Lee Plaza. Actually, 60,000 would seem more reasonable, but then again, it's good that the city sets their standards high, then they can bring down the price over time. Otherwise we'd be getting some slumlord buying it. I'm actually all up for a full gutting of Lee Plaza. I know the first floor has scome cool decoration, but it's destroyed, and no longer looks good. Nowadays, some interiors are done to look really classy like they were in an old building. I'm sure some developer could put something together nice. So whether Lee Plaza gets boards over the windows are not for now, doesn't concern me. If I had to put these two buildings together and pick which one would be renovated first, I'd go with Lee Plaza because of its design and location not far from New Center. Guess, I was wrong, but I'm more happy with the Lafayette being renovated.

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I agree. I think that the Lee Plaza will have to be completely gutted, and even the facade may have to be rebuilt. I think who ever gets their hands on it, after the renovation, the building will probably look much more modern. In fact, we may not even be able to tell it was historic (besides knowing it is) after the developers get done with it.

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Weren't the RPF's for Lee Plaza due earlier this month? I wonder how the response was, especially with a price of $600k?

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I just thought of something...the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. As such, whoever buys the building will be required to restore the building to the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation (at least if they plan on taking advantage of historic tax credits, which they will most likely have to do to get the building renovated). So the exterior must be restored to its original appearance. There is more freedom on the interior, but the standards strongly encourange that any and all significant details be preserved.

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