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More Good News for Detroit


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Here's some more good news for Detroit. We truly are in the midst of a downtown renaissance. There are too many projects to list! This is especially important as we try to shake off the image of the '67 riots...which is what everybody thinks of when they think of Detroit. Hopefully this will help change that when everyone comes for the Superbowl in 2006.

ON BROADWAY: New brewpub readies for downtown Detroit

City's restaurant scene getting another player as Detroit Beer Co. plans to open next week

August 30, 2003



The sometimes sparse restaurant scene in downtown Detroit is getting a new thirst-quenching entry.

The Detroit Beer Co., a $5.3-million brewpub, plans to open as early as next week in the historic six-story Hartz Building at 1529 E. Broadway. Once a neglected corner of downtown, it now includes the Detroit Opera House on one side of the street, and the popular Small Plates restaurant on the other, next to the new brewpub. There are plans for other projects nearby.

Like other brewpubs, Detroit Beer Co. will combine a full-service restaurant with brewed-on-the-premises beer. The owners included Drew Ciora and Michael Plesz, who already own two suburban brewpubs, the Rochester Mills Beer Co. in Rochester and the Royal Oak Brewery in Royal Oak. A third partner, Rick Ghersi, is joining them in their newest entry.

The brewpub will seat up to 200. As in other brewpubs, Detroit Beer Co. will not try to hide the gleaming steel tanks used for the brewing process, nor the sacks of hops and other ingredients used to make beer. Rather, those become an important part of the decor.

"You're going to feel like you're in a working brewery and a real manufacturing facility," Ciora said recently as construction crews worked to finish the restaurant. "You'll be able to smell the beer while it's being brewed."

If watching a brewmaster at work isn't diversion enough, large TV screens will carry sporting events. But the food and the beer will be the main events.

The recent blackout set back construction a few days but the partners still hope to finish work and open in September.

Opening a restaurant can be a risky venture in any town. Just next door to the new brewpub, construction of a Post Bar, part of a popular area chain, has been stalled for two years because of unforeseen construction costs.

But Linda Bade, president of Detroit Downtown Inc., a local civic and business organization, said the success of Small Plates, a trendy restaurant that opened late last year on the other side of the Detroit Beer Co. building, shows that restaurants that are "fun and quality" can be successful.

"We are really excited to see the brewpub open on Broadway," she said. "I think we'll see more of that kind of entity that's directed toward the younger folk who know how to have a good time and don't need a lot of fancy accoutrements to have a great time. So I think it's a great thing that they'll be coming."

The brewpub also fits into Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's plans to encourage the opening of at least 50 storefront businesses downtown in time for Super Bowl XL, to be played in nearby Ford Field in February 2006. The goal is to create a livelier street life.

Susan Sherer, executive director of Detroit's Super Bowl XL Host Committee, said the new brewpub is exactly the kind of venue that downtown needs to make the Super Bowl experience a success.

"This kind of grassroots retail and restaurant and bars are what make Detroit authentic," she said.

Ciora and his partners are pumped up about their chances. After all, their pub is across the street from the Opera House, not far from the new Compuware headquarters, and a short walk to the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park and Ford Field.

"We think the revitalization that's going on, the stadiums, the theaters, the plans between now and Super Bowl, we think it's a great opportunity. We're definitely excited about it," Ciora said.

The Hartz Building is a late-Victorian structure built around 1900. Originally it housed a pharmaceutical supply house, later the Cambridge Business School, and recently some loft apartments.

The partners, who own the whole building, plan to devote the first two floors to their brewpub, and floors three, four and five to rental office space. A loft apartment will occupy the top floor.

The project is being financed in part with bank loans and private investment and in part through a $750,000 low-interest loan from Detroit's Downtown Development Authority. The partners are also applying for various tax credits given to projects that renovate historic architecture in older cities.

Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group served as architect for the project. The contractor is Frank Rewold and Son of Rochester.


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I'm happy to see the rebuilding effort currently underway in Detroit. That city has so much potential, its just up to its citizens to do something about it. It seems that by the time the Super Bowl comes to town, downtown Detroit will be the place to be in the metro area. BTW, has construction started on the new casinos yet?

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Yea, I'm really excited about Detroit's revitalization. This is what they said was going to happen 10 or 15 years ago. It's a little late, but is finally happening. It's sad, really. The city used to rival Chicago & New York, until suburban flight occured. I still quite don't understand how a city can loose more than half of its population so quickly. I'm hoping Detroit will see a population gain, or at least a leveling off by the next census. The city has supposedly gained 2000 people so far this year, and while it's a small number, it's good news for a city which has seen population declines for the past 50 years.

I've heard several conflicting stories with the casinos, but I'll say what I know. The Greektown Casino Hotel was reduced in height from the original 40 floors to only 26 floors because of pressure from civic groups & the owners of Ford Field :angry: . To me, this makes no sense, because Detroit needs hotel rooms downtown, since there are currently only a couple thousand. How can one attract people to downtown if there are no hotel rooms to stay in? Besides, why would anyone pass up the chance for development in a city that's seen no development since the 1980s? I've heard that Greektown Casino will start construction on it's permanent location soon. Yet I've also heard that Greektown Casino is planning on making the temporary casino permanent.

The MGM Grand Casino, on the NW corner of 3rd & Bagley Ave, has been approved & is awaiting construction. It will be 16 stories tall. It was supposed to be complete by 2005, but I just can't see that happening. It's supposed to start construction this year, but I haven't heard when. Knowing Detroit, they will still be talking about it in 5 years.

The Motor City Casino & Hotel is going to be 17 stories tall & contain approximately 400 hotel rooms. The site is located at the corner of the Lodge Freeway & Grand River Ave. It is also approved, but I've heard nothing about its construction. It is supposed to be complete in 2006, but seeing as they haven't started, I doubt it'll be finished by the superbowl.

There are several other projects worth noting. The 18 Story Kales Building on Grand Circus Park is being converted into 110 residential lofts with street-level retail. The Metropolitan Building, near Comerica Park & Ford Field is also undergoing a renovation that will turn it into 70 apartments. The Farbman Group is renovating 3 building at Woodward & John R into 61 loft apartments. I've heard that this is nearing completion. The Eureaka Building is also being converted into residential units. There's a ton more...I'm working on a complete list which I'll post when its complete.

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Kilpatrick is partly behind a lot of what's happening downtown. He gets things done. A lot of what he says goes. He is one of the most powerful mayors in the country. Of course he does have a lot of other issues to deal with, such as corruption in the police department and a projected $196 million budget deficit. So given the circumstances, he gets quite a bit done with regards to economic development in the city.

I'm still not sure about him though. He's made tearing down abandoned buildings a top priority (there are 55,000 of them in the city). That's all well and good, but now he's talking about tearing down several historic buildings, such as the Slater Hotel. The historic buildings are one of the city's greatest assets. Once they're gone they cannot be replaced. While I like modern skyscrapers, why tear some historic building down to put up something new...especially when 40% of the land downtown is vacant? Look at the Hudson's building. It was structurally sound & historic. It would've been the perfect building to put residential development into - like lofts or apartments. But instead they demolished the building, and spent millions of dollars to make a parking garage underneath the site. The parking garage cannot be used by the public, and now the entire block is yet another grassy field in the city of Detroit. There's been talk of putting somethere there for years...but nobody knows what, & with the city government in the state it's in, I don't see it getting redeveloped any time soon. Also, he acts as if putting a Walmart where Tiger Stadium stands is going to solve all the city's economic problems :angry: . I don't mind if they tear it down. It's ugly, & has outlived its usefulness. But before they go over with the buldozers, they should have an approved plan for the site, so we don't go making any more vacant land than we have to.

He's not the worst though. Mike Illitch owns many buildings downtown. He has no sympathy for anything over 25 years old, except for the Fox Theater. However instead of selling them to developers, he lets his buildings fall into serious disrepair. That way he can get the buildings demolished. He doesn't seem to have any plan for the parking lots he creates by demolishing these buildings. So now the Madison-Lenox Hotel will probably be demolished, for yet another parking lot. Since he owns most of the property in the stadium district, he could easily sell residential space for a lot of money. Anyone with half a brain would do that. But not him. Nope...The Detroit Building is another one of his buildings that's marked w/the ominous yellow "D" for Demolish. This is a 10 story building, but the city has the taxable amount for the building set at $134,000. Why? Besides, the city could use the extra income. That building is like 15 times the size of my house, yet is valued at half the amount of my house! He could easily make like 15 residential units that he could sell for $200,000 a piece. But no, he'd rather get $5/car for the 30 cars that might fit on a parking lot that size for every time there's a Tigers game.

There are obviously serious issues to be dealt with in the city, although it has come a long way. It will continue to rebound, and although it will probably never reach the 2 million mark, it will again become a vibrant city.

Ok...I'm done with my rant on the city of Detroit now.

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Yea. Given the situtation, he's doing a pretty good job. I may not agree with everything he does, but he can't make everyone happy, especially in a city with as many problems as Detroit has. One good thing I forgot to mention is that he's strongly in favor of turning the old Michigan Central Railroad Station into the new Detroit Police Department Headquarters. I can definately see it happening...and he's the one that's behind it. One more historic building that won't face the wrecking ball.

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