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daniel nudnik

developer wants to save madison-lenox hotel

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February 9, 2005



A Birmingham developer says she will make an offer today to Ilitch Holdings Inc. to buy the Madison-Lenox Hotel in Detroit. And tonight she will ask the Detroit Historic District Commission to not allow the buildings to be demolished.

Kathy Sinclair of the Downtown Development Co. wants to save the hotel, located near the Detroit Opera House in Harmonie Park, that has been vacant since the early 1990s. Ilitch Holdings wants to demolish the hotel and develop a parking lot.

But the company may consider other options including Sinclair's.

"We would be willing to look at that tomorrow when they present it," Tom Shields, spokesman for Ilitch Holdings Inc., said Tuesday.

Built initially as two towers, the seven-story Madison was erected in 1900 and the eight-story Lenox three years later. The two hotels later were connected by a dining area.

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Haha, you beat me to posting this by about 2 minutes! This is great news though...if Ilitch can let go of the building.

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Here is a more detailed article from the Detroit News. The rendering is very preliminary - just an old postcard that they photoshopped, but it's better than nothing. Obviously none of this is certain until I can walk through the doors on the finished project, but at least there are people interested.


An artist rendering shows the facade of the proposed Madison-Lenox Hotel in downtown Detroit.

Madison-Lenox may stay

Group proposes a $24 million renovation of the three-building downtown hotel.

By R.J. King / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- A local developer is proposing to turn the vacant and crumbling Madison-Lenox Hotel into a condominium/hotel.

Kathy Sinclair, a partner with Downtown Development Co. in Birmingham, said her group plans to submit an offer today to purchase the hotel property from Ilitch Holdings Inc.

Ilitch Holdings planned to demolish the historic hotel last year but the Detroit Historic District Commission wouldn't issue a permit, citing a lack of information about the building's condition.

Ilitch Holdings is scheduled to address the commission today about its plans for the hotel, located at Madison and Randolph in Detroit's Harmonie Park district.

Downtown Development is proposing a $24 million renovation of the three-building Madison-Lenox, which would include a 40-room boutique hotel and several dozen condominiums.

The decorative facades of all three buildings would likely be attached to new buildings, she added.

"We plan to put in all new equipment and keep the architectural look of the buildings," Sinclair said. "We can't yet pin down the number of condos because that would be based on demand. Some companies might like a larger condo to entertain and hold meetings."

Ilitch Holdings spokesman John Hahn didn't say whether the company planned to sell the Madison-Lenox.

"We have not received an official proposal from Downtown Development Co., but they did do some preliminary renderings of what they might like to do for the property," he said. "But I understand we may see something (today)."

The Madison-Lenox, built in the early 1900s, has been vacant for more than 20 years. The building entrances are barricaded with cinder blocks and all of its windows are broken out.

City planners want to see the buildings either demolished or under renovation prior to Major League Baseball's All-Star Game at Comerica Park in July and the National Football League's Super Bowl at Ford Field on Feb. 5, 2006.

"That's the last eyesore in the stadium district area," said George W. Jackson Jr., president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a nonprofit development agency.

Hahn declined to say Tuesday if the company planned to ask the Historic Commission to reconsider its demolition request.

Ilitch Holdings is the parent company for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesar Enterprises Inc. and the Fox Theatre, among others. The company, owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch, owns close to 10 empty buildings in downtown Detroit along with several vacant lots, some of which are used for parking.

Hahn said officials from Ilitch Holdings met with Downtown Development last spring about a proposal for the Madison-Lenox.

Robert Ziegelman, principal of Luckenbach Ziegelman Architects in Bloomfield Hills, was retained by Sinclair for the renovation effort. Ziegelman said the facades of the Madison-Lenox Hotel could be saved, citing similar efforts in other cities in the United States and Europe.

"The buildings are distinctive and would enhance everything in the neighborhood, like the Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit Opera House and Harmonie Park," he said.

Last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation selected the Madison-Lenox as one of America's 11 most endangered historic places. The designation is meant to focus attention on the property, said Francis Grunow, executive director of Preservation Wayne in Detroit.

You can reach R.J. King at (313) 222-2504 or [email protected]

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Yeah, I noticed the extra buildings added onto the end. Glass would not have been my first choice either. I would prefer that they used a new facade that is harmonious with the old facade. The juxtaposition between new and old could be interesting if it is done correctly, but it just doesn't look right here. Fortunately this is just a preliminary rendering that has been thrown together.

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The manager at the bar in the Broderick told me that the Ilitches sold the Madison Lenox (I'm assuming to the Birmingham developer). Rhonda Walker on channel 4 will be doing a story about this soon.

I find it interesting that they might have sold it, since Christopher Ilitch just said in the Detroit News on Wednesday that they would not sell the building. Detroit's newspapers aren't the most accurate things in the world, but it's the best we've got. Maybe the interview for that story was done three weeks ago - who knows?

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