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Aaron

Detroit's Broderick Tower

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Through some local connections, myself and two friends were able to gain access to the Broderick Tower in downtown Detroit, which overlooks Grand Circus Park. Designed by Detroit architect Louis Kamper and completed in 1928, the building is vacant except for a bar on the first floor. Redevelopment plans are being floated, but so far nothing solid has been confirmed. Luckily, the building seems to be in good condition structurally.

The building rises 371 feet (113 meters) and 34 floors over Detroit at 10 Witherell Street. It used to house all kinds of offices, dental ones in particular. The tower was finally vacated sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s. Lots of interesting exploring to be done!

I'm sure you'll be seeing more, higher-res photos from others soon. I'm just posting mine now because I took the fewest. ^_^

Note: This building was accessed with legal permission. Urban exploration is dangerous, and that anyone found trespassing in the building will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

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The view south down Brush Street from Greektown.

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Nearby the old parking garage for the Detroit Opera House is undergoing demolition for...another, larger parking garage. No argument from me, since this thing is really hideous.

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The recently restored Kales Building overlooking Grand Circus Park.

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The structurally-weak Statler Hotel is facing demolition. It's outrageous that there's no plan for the site (except for a gaping hole.)

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Broderick Tower, formerly Eaton Tower, the day's subject. The mural was painted by local artist Wyland (his legal name is just that one word) in 1997. I personally find it to be ugly beyond words and with no local relevance. It at least does cover up some blank space where there are no windows, though, due to the elevators shafts.

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The view up from Witherell Street.

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Looking toward the CBD. The Metropolitan Building is in the lower left.

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There's lots of odd graffiti throughout the building, especially the lower floors.

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Seventeen floors up!

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Book Tower in all its awkward, grimy limestone charm.

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Oh, the fifties crack me up.

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Looking north on the metro area's main drag, Woodward Avenue.

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This photo basically took itself.

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The 34th floor penthouse has some cool balconies. (I was not genuinely intimidated by the face, though.)

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It's an outrage some moron f'ed up this once-great wall.

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The view from the roof, 34 floors up.

Hope you enjoyed! :)

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Nice photos, Aaron. My muscles aren't as sore as I thought they be today after climbing all those stairs yesterday!

It is unfortunate that vandals have really destroyed the building in recent months. The owner is Mike Higgins, who was once the richest 12 year old in the country. He would buy buildings at extremely low prices, and then sell them to developers who would renovate them. He owns two other properties in downtown Detroit, the others being the old Leland Hotel (now the Ramada Inn), and the Farwell Building (an old office building on Shelby Street). Because of skyrocketing insurance costs in Detroit, the owner can't afford to make improvements to his properties. A large window got pushed out of the tower and onto a woman's head below. He had to pay the woman $50,000 in a settlement. Additionally, he has been fined $50,000 by the city for various violations. That's $100,000 the owner has had to pay for a building that originally cost him $54,000. The good news is that Hines, Inc. out of Houston has been hired to redevelop the building into lofts. Construction was supposed to start in 2000, but the plans got caught up in a bunch of red tape. City council finally approved the plans recently, and construction will begin in about one year.

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that is pretty neat about the Broderick tower. I have often wondered about the abandoned buildings in Detroit. Thanks for sharing the pictures and future of this one.

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Broderick Tower is by far the tallest abandoned structure in the city. The next tallest would be the Book-Cadillac Hotel, at 24 stories. The condition of abandoned buildings in the city vary quite a bit. They range from buildings that have been untouched since they closed 20+ years ago to buidings that have been torn apart by scavengers and vandals. The structural integrity of buildings depends on how open they are to the elements and if there is water in the basement, which could significantly weaken the foundation over time. After having been in several abandoned buildings downtown, I can say that water is enemy number one for all buildings. Keep the water out and for the most part, the building will remain structurally sound.

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The Broderick is apparently a go. The city is not involved with this, so it's hard to know if every piece of financing has fallen into place. I'm sure they will be working on that over the next year. The building is in very good shape when compared to other downtown buildings, so the renovation won't cost as much. This likely means that the financial gap is not nearly as large as it is on other projects.

The plans call for 200 apartments. 200 apartments at $750/month (the same as the Kales apartments starting rate) is $150,000 of income per month. That works out to $9,000,000 over five years. After five years, if they sell the apartments as condos for $175,000 each, that's another $35,000,000. That's $44,000,000 in six years; however, this does not take into account the costs of maintenance, insurance, and security guards. The question is, how much will the renovation cost?

The 714,549 square foot Book-Cadillac's renovation will cost $180,000,000. That works out to $252 per square foot. In comparison, there is 193,921 square feet of space in Broderick Tower. At the same $252 per square foot rate, the total cost of renovation works out to be $48,868,092, which of course is a little high, since the Book Cadillac is in much worse shape. By using historic tax credits, facade improvement program money, etc., some of the renovation cost will be covered. 12% of the Book Cadillac's renovation is being paid for using tax credits. If only 10% of Broderick's renovation is paid for using tax credits, the cost of renovation will be just under $44,000,000 (assuming the high $252/square foot cost figure). Conclusion: A Broderick Tower renovation is feasible financially with creative financing.

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