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Allan

Lafer Building to be redeveloped

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lafer.jpg

The Lafer Building was constructed in 1916 and designed by Detroit architect Joseph E. Mills. The building was originally home to Lafer Brothers Grocery Wholesale. DetroitBlog does a better job than I ever could with the history, so just read here.

The Lafer renovation has been in the works since around the time Hudson's came down, so it's good to see things finally moving forward.

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Broadway seems to really be coming together. The new YMCA will help when it opens up in December. Now if we could just get something done about the Wurlitzer, and the Metropolitan.

Part of the reason we're just now seeing these developments happen is that in the late 1990s when the current wave of downtown redevelopment was getting started, the DDA started putting almost all of their money towards huge projects like the new stadiums, the Hudson's demolition, etc. People who wanted to redevelop buildings were told by the DDA that there wasn't any money to help them out. The Iodent and Broderick in particular are two projects just getting off the ground, despite being planned since 1997 or so. Of course now the Broderick price tag has increased from $7 million to $40 million, and unfortunately, finding $40 million in funding is a lot harder than finding $7 million.

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Broadway has really turned into a nice little nieghborhood for downtown Detroit. Getting more residents there will only increase the demand for more restaurants and night life. This is a very good development.

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Broadway is really what's going to tie Greektown, Grand Circus Park, and Foxtown all together. It is my view that many of Detroit's problems, and this is city-wide, stems from areas not being connected with eachother. The more physical connections that can be made, the more social connections that can be fostered, which leads to true revitalization.

That's why I like what I see in terms of New Amsterdam, and the rest of the area between downtown and midtown. The city has been divided along so many lines for so long that people don't feel connected, and they need to.

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Imagine if we capped the freeways between Cass and Brush overpasses. That would do wonders. Imagine how the Brush Park people would feel connected to downtown Detroit. I'm sure the area over by the Eddystone would take off as well. I mean, how hard would it be to do this? They've capped the freeway near Southfield several times with parks on top. You already have I-75 below ground level. I wonder if this has been considered.

Sorry I got off topic a bit.

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Oh, don't worry. What much else can you say about the Lafer Building renovation than "that's great." :) Yeah, I agree, imagine how much capping the Fisher would connect Cass and Brush Parks with downtown Detroit. Then imagine how the Park Avenue area would have no excuse to avoid development. Well, besides Illitch holding onto most of the area with a death grip. lol

I'd also hope that one day they can tie downtown back together with Corktown to the west and Lafayette Park to the east. There used to be SOLID development in each direction comparable to many older cities.

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M-DOT had planned to cap part of the Lodge through midtown, but I believe it has been put on hold. Unfortunately there isn't much money for projects like that now.

If I had it my way, I-75 through downtown would be capped, 375 would be filled in, and the Lodge south of 75 would be capped.

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Has any work been done? I went by here this morning, and nothing caught my attention. Personally, I hate when buildings advertise before work has begun, because I get so excited waiting for it to open, and it seems to take forever.

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It's just a sign. It's been up since the Super Bowl. According to the sign completion is scheduled for Fall 2006.

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getting to your comment about tying the stadium district and greektown together, I think we are indeed seeing this, however, the gratiot, randolph, macomb and broadway intersection continues to be the WORST intersection ever for pedestrians. I was looking at an aerial trying to figure out a way to mitigate this thing for peds and it really is kinda hopeless. I would say close down macomb and make that a ped only street and then add a curved cross walk across Gratiot but I am thinking that something like that is not ADA compliant. Part of the problem is that Gratiot is just too wide of a street both aesthetically and functionally (4 lanes is real high in the overkill department). Also, so many streets cause all kinds of problems with respect to signal phasing.

As is the case with most intersections, the left turns create most of the problems. I fooled around today at lunch using the aerial to come up with some possible geometry, but nothing great came to mind. One option i though of might be to require michigan lefts to get to northbound Broadway from Northbound randolph... it is definitely something I am going to work on to see if its possible but ROW issues might kill this one.

I suppose i should get back to my real work now :-/

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I think the best solution would be to create a samll traffic circle. That way you get rid of left turns and it becomes easier for pedestrians to understand the flow of traffic. It would also add a much needed "green space" in that area. I also agree that it would be better to close Macomb St between Brush and Randolph, as once you turn onto Macomb St, the only option is to turn left onto Brush St. and head back up to Gratiot. Macomb St is a one-way street in the opposite direction once you pass Brush and Brush is a one-way street going north.

Here's a little mock-up that I created with MS Paint:

gratiotcircle.jpg

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Hello everyone, I happen to think that traffic circle is a good idea there are alot of unfreindly pedestrian intersections through out the city that that could work for along with capping and/or filling all of the freeways surrounding downtown. I envison one day that the entire city within Grand Blvd. could become on cohesive series of neighborhoods or am I just getting carried away?

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gratiotcircle.jpg

This concept never even dawned on me. I like it a lot. Put a nice monument in the center like a mini Columbus Circle. It would complement Campus Martius I think and could be the boost that area needs for further development.

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I like the idea.

A couple of critiques:

You don't have a sidewalk on the east side of Randolf.

Macomb isn't a problem. It is one-way out of the intersection. It might be a problem if it where two-way.

You're probably going to have to move more traffic than your exact drawing would allow. This stretch is THE major connector from Gratiot (therefore I-94) to Campus Martius and Jefferson.

This street is also a crucial truck route.

The crosswalk locations should be revised a bit.

Remember that the vast majority of traffic is from Gratiot to Randolf and vis versa, the other streets only pay minor roles.

But over all, I think it might be a good idea. I wouldn't expect to get any real green space, but a spot for something small like a monument or a fountain, and more logical and safe pedestrain movements would make it worth it.

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103247750_823b3b4c57_o.jpg

I've done a few things... Michigan Left required for NB movements from Randolph to Broadway and Gratiot (WB). I've also bridged gratiot with a healthy sized median. Other restricted movements include dropping WB gratiot to 2 lanes Ped movements still suck, but they are a little less complicated and less intimidating...

the roundabout idea is interesting The truck movements concern me as well as some issues with sight distance due to the surrounding buildings. ... i'll have to see what sized rads we are using for the NW connector project roundabouts tomorrow at work. NW Connector deals with some maaaajor roadways so it might be a good reference point to use.

()

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