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GRDadof3

Morton House - Monroe Ctr & Ionia

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Has there been anyone looking at renovating Morton House. I found this old postcard of the Morton House Hotel from the 1800's:

morton.jpg

It's obviously been through many changes. It definitely could use an extreme makeover:

45E7DE700B6F11DAA200961518F73B1D.jpg

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Has there been anyone looking at renovating Morton House.  I found this old postcard of the Morton House Hotel from the 1800's:

morton.jpg

It's obviously been through many changes.  It definitely could use an extreme makeover:

45E7DE700B6F11DAA200961518F73B1D.jpg

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree. BTY, have you checked out the Michigan list of sex offenders lately? You would be surprised how many live in the Morton House. Scary.

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I agree. BTY, have you checked out the Michigan list of sex offenders lately? You would be surprised how many live in the Morton House. Scary.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yikes :w00t: You hold the door, I'll get the fire-hose, and we'll clean that place out :D

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The Morton House today is a different building than the one in the postcard. It was rebuilt at some point.

I do agree that the Morton House is prime for redevelopment!

Joe

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The original Morton House was obviously demolished to make room for the "modern" tower. They'd have to demolish this incarnation in order to make it look anything closely similar to the original.

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The original Morton House was obviously demolished to make room for the "modern" tower.  They'd have to demolish this incarnation in order to make it look anything closely similar to the original.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

OH I dunno, just add some of those curved window things (I cant remember the name now!) on each window, and add a floor with that gotic style top and you might come close.

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There has been some interest by local developers in renovating the Morton House, but several issues make doing so difficult, at best.

First, developers are very concerned about being perceived as kicking poor people around. Morton House offers a lot of affordable apartments. Any major overhaul to the building would cost so much that it would effectively price the apartments out of the low-income arena.

A possible solution would be to have Dwelling Place take it over and structure something similar to what it is doing with the Weston Apartments. Another would be getting GVSU and Ferris to take over the building, but again, that would likely displace existing residents who don't have ready access to affordable housing downtown.

Second, the place is likely a cash cow for its Southfield-based owners. There is little to really push them to sell since the value of the on-going rent income likely exceeds the value of the property in its current condition.

Finally, any renovation would require additional parking since it would likely be trying to appeal to higher income renters/condo owners. Finding permanent parking for those residents could be difficult without additional construction nearby.

That being said, Morton House badly needs some TLC. It is one of the last remaining blighted large buildings (erm..Olds Manor... DeVos...uhm...) in downtown. There have been some behind-the-scenes negotiations about improving it, but last I heard those negotiations didn't go anywhere.

One thing is certain, developers are aware of the issue.

Thoughts?

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There has been some interest by local developers in renovating the Morton House, but several issues make doing so difficult, at best.

First, developers are very concerned about being perceived as kicking poor people around. Morton House offers a lot of affordable apartments. Any major overhaul to the building would cost so much that it would effectively price the apartments out of the low-income arena.

A possible solution would be to have Dwelling Place take it over and structure something similar to what it is doing with the Weston Apartments. Another would be getting GVSU and Ferris to take over the building, but again, that would likely displace existing residents who don't have ready access to affordable housing downtown.

Second, the place is likely a cash cow for its Southfield-based owners. There is little to really push them to sell since the value of the on-going rent income likely exceeds the value of the property in its current condition.

Finally, any renovation would require additional parking since it would likely be trying to appeal to higher income renters/condo owners. Finding permanent parking for those residents could be difficult without additional construction nearby.

That being said, Morton House badly needs some TLC. It is one of the last remaining blighted large buildings (erm..Olds Manor... DeVos...uhm...) in downtown. There have been some behind-the-scenes negotiations about improving it, but last I heard those negotiations didn't go anywhere.

One thing is certain, developers are aware of the issue.

Thoughts?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Interesting. I'll keep my opinions to myself for fear of being chastised, but just from the city's point of view, it would make financial sense. Similar to the People's Building before it was renovated to Cityview, the assessed value of Morton House is only $122,500 (can you even believe it!). That's almost the same as my house.

If it were made into condos, after the tax break period phases out, the combined assessed values might be closer to $5 - $10 million. With a city strapped for cash, it sounds pretty good (although the revenue wouldn't come for awhile).

And for parking, floors could possibly be added to the Pearl Street ramp to the North, or the Louis Street ramp to the South.

Other thoughts?

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Interesting.  I'll keep my opinions to myself for fear of being chastised, but just from the city's point of view, it would make financial sense.  Similar to the People's Building before it was renovated to Cityview, the assessed value of Morton House is only $122,500 (can you even believe it!).  That's almost the same as my house.

If it were made into condos, after the tax break period phases out, the combined assessed values might be closer to $5 - $10 million.  With a city strapped for cash, it sounds pretty good (although the revenue wouldn't come for awhile). 

And for parking, floors could possibly be added to the Pearl Street ramp to the North, or the Louis Street ramp to the South. 

Other thoughts?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Isn't there a height limit on parking ramps? If not, you're going to run into some opposition from surrounding building owners/tenants/etc. Who wants a tall parking structure? If you know what I mean?

And where would the sex offenders go? (There are only about five or six living there, so take my comment with a grain of salt. More flavorful that way.)

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How about getting one of those companies that buys blighted property and fixes it up, while continuing to keep the rent low. There is a company based out of Maine that recently came into Lansing and bought two apartment complexes, their mission is supposedly to fix up low-income housing that is at risk of becoming market rate, and keep it a well maintained low-income property. It seems like a good idea, maybe something like that can happen with this building.

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How about getting one of those companies that buys blighted property and fixes it up, while continuing to keep the rent low. There is a company based out of Maine that recently came into Lansing and bought two apartment complexes, their mission is supposedly to fix up low-income housing that is at risk of becoming market rate, and keep it a well maintained low-income property. It seems like a good idea, maybe something like that can happen with this building.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Dwelling Place in GR does that, and is getting ready to rehab the two Weston Apartment Buildings. But I think we have enough low income apartments around (Ransom Towers and all of Dwelling Place's properties for instance). I believe the influx of 1300 new condominium residences downtown in the past 3 - 5 years has done more for downtown than anything in the past 50 years.

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How about getting one of those companies that buys blighted property and fixes it up, while continuing to keep the rent low. There is a company based out of Maine that recently came into Lansing and bought two apartment complexes, their mission is supposedly to fix up low-income housing that is at risk of becoming market rate, and keep it a well maintained low-income property. It seems like a good idea, maybe something like that can happen with this building.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Did they not try this in NYC years ago (rent control)? I'm not sure it was successful. Must do some research on that and get back to you.

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Welcome Coleco.

At the very least they need to "condo" out the ground (and lower level) to someone that can put some nice retail in there. I'm sure this building once had a pretty cool entrance.

I think something will likely happen in the next 5 years. It is a valuable piece of property and someone could easily buy it and stop renewing leases, slowly letting the air out of the tires and not seem like a demon. :ph34r:

Joe

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I wonder when the building on the far right got knocked down to make a dumpy alley with some parking spots? It looks like it was a great building (looks a little like the Trust Building).

Joe

Has there been anyone looking at renovating Morton House.  I found this old postcard of the Morton House Hotel from the 1800's:

morton.jpg

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I wonder when the building on the far right got knocked down to make a dumpy alley with some parking spots? It looks like it was a great building (looks a little like the Trust Building).

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's weird, Joe, I thought the same thing when I saw that. The weirdest is that the photographer at the time stood in almost the exact same spot that I did :blink: BTW: I put an updated photo of the MVP Club on the GR Photos - Downtown thread.

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At the very least they need to "condo" out the ground (and lower level) to someone that can put some nice retail in there. I'm sure this building once had a pretty cool entrance.

Right. At street level it looks awful: dumpy liquor store, empty store-front, the often shady Drink Lounge, and the dreary backside facing Ionia. I can't speak for the inside, but I don't see the fixing up the exterior as too much of a problem. Clean up the steet-level facade, upgrade the windows, and maybe dramatize the roof-line alittle. Easier said than done, of course, but it could be quite attractive.

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I may be showing my age, but I used to work at Les Idees Restaurant in the Morton House and it was a nice space. The best, however, was the old Lobby/ballroom. It was vacant when I worked there and I convinced them to let me have my senior prom there. It was a very ornate room and would make a great restaurant or retail space. Entered from Monroe, very cool...and if I say so myself, very ahead of our time...this was in 1980 when it was still a pedestrian mall.

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I may be showing my age, but I used to work at Les Idees Restaurant in the Morton House and it was a nice space. The best, however, was the old Lobby/ballroom. It was vacant when I worked there and I convinced them to let me have my senior prom there. It was a very ornate room and would make a great restaurant or retail space. Entered from Monroe, very cool...and if I say so myself, very ahead of our time...this was in 1980 when it was still a pedestrian mall.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Is that where "Drink" is now, or is it next door to that? And what's with that little cigarette/liquor store with the cage on the front on Monroe Center (just East of the Steketees building). Reminds me of the bronx :P

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, the assessed value of Morton House is only $122,500 (can you even believe it!).

That assessmet is relevant only to one of the condo units, the basement, 1st and 2nd floors were condo'd seperately as was that little 'lounge' (drink?).

Anybody know the story behind the current ownership of this thing?

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,

That assessmet is relevant only to one of the condo units, the basement, 1st and 2nd floors were condo'd seperately as was that little 'lounge' (drink?).

Anybody know the story behind the current ownership of this thing?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It gets even better. The $122,500 is just for 72 Monroe (looks like the condo portion you mentioned). Local ownership, 813 Franklin, GRR

The apartments are listed as 55 Ionia, assessed $47,100, name: Seventy North Apartments, 30100 Telegraph Rd, Ste 300, Bingham Farms, MI 48025. 30100 is a big office building on Telegraph, and the closest listing I could find was a Midwest Affordable Housing Mgmt Assoc, Michigan chapter VP:

http://www.mahma.com/mahma_membership_directory.htm

All at anyone's fingertips, and all free info ;)

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The cool ballroom is not where Drink is, it is thru the caged door, if memory serves me well...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I peaked in the door window just to the right of the Morton Party Store, and it looked very cool. I could make out what looked like marble walls and floors, and some old art deco style light fixtures. The lights were on in there too. All of the doors were locked though, so I couldn't get photos :( I even tried to go in through the Morton House Apts. entrance off of Ionia, but there were some creepy dudes hanging out in there :unsure:

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I had to make a delivery to someone in the morton house in 2004. When I went in there, I couldn't get the door open until someone came in with this one thing to open it. Once I got in, the people there looked like a lot of ganster scary looking people. The person I had to make a delivery to was a poor person. In fact, I even had to go into her apartment to drop off the food. Getting out was scary too. I push a down button to the elevatpr and it's an old down button that didn't work, then pushed another one and got shocked by that one. I never want to go in there again.

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