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Book-Cadillac gets initial cleaning

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Book-Cadillac gets initial cleaning

Detroit still working on deal to renovate vacant historic hotel

October 9, 2004

BY JOHN GALLAGHER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

The City of Detroit has finished its preliminary clean-up of the vacant Book-Cadillac Hotel as it continues to work on a deal with a developer to renovate the structure.

For several months, demolition and clean-up crews have removed debris and contained asbestos in the 1924 landmark structure. City officials said the work, which cost about $7 million, was paid for through funds earmarked for downtown development and would have to be done even if the hotel were razed.

Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a quasi-public arm of the city, has been negotiating a deal with the Ferchill Group of Cleveland to take over the building and renovate it into a modern hotel. The Westin hotel chain is in line to operate it. George Jackson, president of the DEGC, said Friday, "We're well on our way to completing the financing. We're really optimistic."

The deal, said to total about $140 million in renovation costs, is "extremely complex," Jackson said, and requires multiple parties to agree to invest in the project in exchange for various tax credits associated with historic renovation projects. City officials and executives of the Ferchill Group said they hope to complete an agreement soon.

Designed by the architect Louis Kamper with Italian Renaissance detailing, the Book-Cadillac operated as the city's most famous hotel until 1984, when a declining market forced its closure. The hotel remained mired in bankruptcy court for many years until the city managed to come up with a plan to rescue it.

In mid-2003, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced a plan under which the Kimberly-Clark Corp. of Dallas would renovate the hotel. But Kimberly-Clark abandoned the project a few months later, saying the deal did not make enough economic sense for it to go forward.

The city has been working ever since with Ferchill Group to stitch together a plan for the renovation. Any deal likely would involve renovating the bulk of the building as a hotel but converting some of the upper floors into condominiums.

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or [email protected]

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