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Wordsmith

So why isn't the Whitney Building being used yet?

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If--and this is the impression I'm getting--the David Whitney building has been wonderfully sealed and is in such great shape, why hasn't it been turned into condos or office space yet? Since it doesn't have to be totally remodeled inside (as far as I know) what's holding up that building?

WS

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The lower floors of the building are supposed to be used by ESPN during the Super Bowl. Not using the space at such a prime location during such a huge event would be criminal, especially since it is in such good shape. I have not seen any evidence of anyone preparing the building for use during the Super Bowl, although a friend of mine tells me that he's seen people going in & out of the building more often lately.

The Whitney Building still has live antennas on the roof, all the lights inside still function, and it is guarded. If you drive by at night, you may notice that a few of the lights inside are eternally on. Other than a little peeling paint & the leaking skylight, there is very little that has to be fixed before it can be occupied. Over the last couple years, however, I've noticed more broken windows...more signs that the building is begining to decay. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to rehab, and the more money it will cost.

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BTW, here's an old proposal that never got through. Actually, it was fairly recent, I think (mid-to-late 90's). It was to include a Double Tree Hotel, and from all of the good news coming from it, I really thought it was going to happen:

a1whitney.jpg

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What a nice picture. Shame it couldn't have happened.

IMO, when retail downtown picks up, I think the lower levels should be turned into a department store of some sort, with the upper floor being office space. I really don't want this building to be residential. First being the reason that I want to see the core fill up with more people working downtown. This could jump start the small business around Grand Cirucs Park, since workers are more likely to be "regulars" of various establishments nearby. Furthermore, I'm afraid that if it becomes residential, there's a risk a nearby vacant building or valuable lot, may become site of a parking structure. I'm not a parking guru, but I think it's possible to share parking. Office workers could use the parking in GCP during the day, and residents at night when they return from work. Not sure if that would work in a perfect world, but it seems like it would. Next, the building has it's own people mover station. I think it would be a huge waste to have something like that for a residential building only. Finally, the overall building design isn't really appropriate for residential. It would be very good for a hotel, but with the Book Cadillac (hopefully), the Hudsons block, and other downtown hotels, I'm not sure it would be a great idea to oversaturate the CBD with hundreds of vacant hotel rooms.

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I don't know.. maybe because renovating an 80+ year old 300,000 sf building isn't the cheapest thing to do no matter what condition of the building. Office space? Detroit's office market isn't exactly booming, at least for Class B space which is the best we could hope for given its age. The market is to point that owners of 1001 Woodward are turning the top nine floors into luxury condos.

Residential would work, but isn't a walk in the park. First it's double the size of buildings of the completed residential projects in the city that surely gonna make banks nervous. Second, where are you going to park all of these people? This being Detroit we know that all these going need spaces for their cars. Tunneling into Grand Circus is the most logical, but is the city willing to give all those spaces. Especially, with a renovated Broderick having done it in the eastside of the park(crosses fingers).

Not that hope is lost for the building we're already seeing development of of larger building like the Lafayette and Argonaunt. So, a building like the Whitney can't be far off from seeing some serious redevelopment proposals. Successful completion of other two projects will also really help the Whitney's chances

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Parking for the Whitney seems to be a rather simple matter to me. Just tunnel into the GCP garage like what has been done with the Kales, and what will be done with the Broderick. The Kales only takes up so many spaces in the west half of the garage. The city intends that the the garage will one day service all the residents living on a revitalized GCP. Back in 2001, they studied the feasibility of tunneling into the garage for the Kales Building, Statler Hotel, Whitney Building, & Broderick Tower. There are 900 spaces under the park, which is more than enough to service the buildings on the park.

The Whitney is one of the few old buildings that I would not mind seeing remain office space. However, I would prefer it to be turned into residential space on the upper floors. The building's location on the Park & near the entertainment district makes it more attractive for residential than office uses. The office market in Detroit is very soft, and is likely to remain so for the forseeable future. However, downtown can absorb 318 new residential units per year. The only problem is that the building's design isn't particularly suited to residential, although there are ways around this.

Perhaps the best use for the building is a mixed use project. A department store on 1-4, offices on 5-10, and residential or a hotel on 11-19. The Whitney Building really is a huge building, so it could accomodate multiple uses. If a developer could find the right combination of uses, a redevelopment would be successful without putting a glut of hotel rooms or office space in downtown.

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I definitely like the idea of a department store going in there eventually. I'm more partial to Allan's plan sans the hotel idea and going completely residential on those uppermost floors.

And as you stated the building is starting to deteriorate, even if it's just a little, so I would like to see something put forward before it gets to be like the other buildings downtown that are pretty far gone. When I see those old shadows of paint detailing the goods and services to be found inside of the various buildings (a great example is that building across from the Newspaper room entrance of the Skillman Branch Library.

WS

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Here is a thread that was partly about the Whitney,

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.ph...wtopic=9555&hl=

I also hope that residential is included in a redevelopment plan and that a department store is put into the bottom 4 floors. It would be the perfect spot for a Macy's. Isn't there a plan for a macy's to go into the Whitney? Sorry Wolverine, but I like Allan's plan better.

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BTW, here's an old proposal that never got through.  Actually, it was fairly recent, I think (mid-to-late 90's).  It was to include a Double Tree Hotel, and from all of the good news coming from it, I really thought it was going to happen:

a1whitney.jpg

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

haha, that picture is from my crappy people mover site I made back in 11th grade... i don't dare to read the crap I wrote back then (5 years ago at least)

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I think we'll have to lure another lower level department store before we can grab a Macy's. But oh ten years from now downtown might be unrecognizable, for the best or worst.

WS

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I really like the look of that hotel rendering. I think that a mixed use development would be best for the Whitney building. Residential would be ok but I would like to see office there. Anyone have any photos that would show the interior or how difficult it would be to convert into residential?

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I thought forgottenmichigan.com had photos of the Whitney interior, but it appears they don't. I've seen images of the inside before, it still looks pretty good.

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Let's get you some more traffic

Tapezord's People Mover Site

You should put a song on it like the official people mover site.  Their's even loops infinitely, just like the people mover itself!!

http://www.thepeoplemover.com/

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

no no no! don't click there! :D

I made that website because the ol people mover was website-less until 2002 or so... and wow, what a job they did on it, eh?

Getting back on track, I still love that rendering of the Whitney Building. I really wonder why it has taken so long for something to happen with this building.

I would like to see the next mayor of Detroit announce a plan similar to what we saw in Campus Martius; that is, a planned approach for use of land around Grand Circus Park. Grand Circus Park really has the potential to be a burgoning district given its location with respect to the theatres, sports and upcoming bars. Seeing vacant lots around the park just does not add up given the surrounding development.

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The photos of the interior of the Whitney Building are here and here.

Dblog has a couple at his blog. And the fellow explorers on the Broderick Tower that were mentioned in the post? Just guess....

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WOW, I didn't know that the David Whitney Building was in such good condition. Along the line of a proposed plan for the Grand Circus Park area, I would like to see temporary green space on the Statler and Tuller sites until they are redeveloped. Green Space would be a lot better than gravel lots in the middle of the city.

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Thanks Allan. Right on cue as always. The lobby looks amazing. I could see it being a retail destination with offices on the upper floors.

rbdetsport temporary green space wont make as much money as a parking lot. Either way both emphasize that there is nothing on the site.

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The photos of the interior of the Whitney Building are here and here.   

Dblog has a couple at his blog.  And the fellow explorers on the Broderick Tower that were mentioned in the post?  Just guess....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm speechless... Well almost, I'd forgotten that it looked so amazing. I love those skinny wooden doors...

WS

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