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Summer in Detroit

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Continued from Part 1....

The Penobscot block


Old Penobscot Building


150 West Jefferson


Book Cadillac Hotel


Old Penobscot Building entry


211 West Fort


Penobscot Building


Demolishing the Grand Trunk Building for a parking garage


Guardian Building


Guardian Lobby



Old Banking Room


Looking back to the entry


Guardian Elevators


Behind the desk


The vacant 600 Woodward Avenue, which will soon be redeveloped


1001 Woodward


Comerica Tower


Compuware Lobby


Penobscot & Dime Buildings


CBD Skyscrapers


Part 3

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Nice shots of the Penobscot! The Olde building being demolished has got me ticked. Most Detroiters know that the building was in excellent condition. If you have ever been in the building, it looked like the last day they left. I think someone was keeping it maintained during its years of vacancy. It was one of the buildings I least expected to be demolished because of its location. This prime piece of real estate is going to waste. I have never had any issues parking and walking to another location. I was told because employees and residents wanted to park close to their buildings, but well! Can't you park elsewhere and use the people mover? Detroit once again, remains a shell.

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Grand Trunk was owned by the same people who own and restored the Dime Building. Apparently they looked into converting GT into residences; however, they felt that nobody would buy the units at the back because they would look out onto a brick wall. So they decided to demolish the building for a parking garage (to be used by the Dime Building tenants). They hope that the dedicated parking garage will boost the occupancy rate, which I have heard is only 20%.

If I had been running the company, I would've looked at mothballing the GT, and then converting some of the Dime's upper floors into apartments. When the market picked up, they could have converted the GT into condos or into offices. It does cost quite a bit to mothball a building though, so I can understand why they had to do something with the building, since from a financial standpoint it didn't make much sense to keep it. I would think that the company is struggling financially, seeing as how they are paying to maintain a building that is only 20% occupied. I just wish they had sold it to a developer instead of tearing it down. So What if some of the units looked at a brick wall? Sure, it's not a real nice view, but the central location can't be beat. I know I'd live there!

Meanwhile, a 10-12 story parking structure is going to be built on Woodward just north of 1001 Woodward. Even if every building in the area was 100% occupied, there is still going to be a ton of extra parking. What a waste! I just hope these are the last two parking structures for the Lower Woodward/C-Mart area. There's plenty of parking there as is, and they are building more than 1000 more spaces as we speak!

I can understand how people want to be close to where they are going for convenience's sake. Especially if I lived in one of those lofts on Woodward. It's not that I don't mind walking in the city, I just wouldn't want to have to make several trips from my loft to my car to bring in all the groceries. This is why I believe that street parking should be rebuilt on Woodward. Sure, the wide sidewalks are nice, but I can't see a time when the amount of pedestrian activity downtown would warrant such wide sidewalks. Also, it would be nice if they had planned the renovation of the street so that it would be easy to put light rail lines down the corridor in the future. In five years if they decided to build a light rail line down the street, they would have to rip out all the new streetscaping, and then redo it all again.

The thing about carrying groceries from your car to your loft brings up another point. Downtown needs a small grocery store. Something where somebody living downtown could stop in after work and pick up a few things for dinner that evening. An aquaintence of mine just moved to the Lafayette Towers in Lafayette Park, east of 375, and she always complains that there is nowhere to shop and buy groceries. She loves it in the city, since she has an awesome view of downtown (her unit is on the 16th floor) and is at the hub of activity. However, she has to drive to Southfield or some other suburb to go grocery shopping and to buy clothes. This is not a problem now that school has started up again, since she has to drive to Southfield five days each week anyway, but she found it to be a pain during the summer. I think people would be more inclined to move downtown if all their daily needs could be found within walking distance. Of course, the major problem here is that the retailers will not show up without residents, and the residents don't want to move in until there are enough retailers.

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I love the Guardian lobby I was downtown last week and when I was in there I felt like it was something out of lord of the rings, The Guardian is a true gem and its great that michcon kept it in such good shape even tho it wasnt fully occupied some other CBD land lords should take notice.

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I heard a rumor that they are looking to turn the upper floors of the Guardian into residential. That would be awesome! Imagine the views from up there! However, we all know how development in the city goes, so time will tell.

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Great pictures Allan! I'm in Detroit right now actually, taking a side trip from the Toronto trip. :)

Thanks. It was nice of you to stop by my place today too. :)

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