Downtown Detroit has empty buildings; it's not hard to miss. Every city has empty buildings; it's just the way of life. Unfortunately, there are too many empty buildings in Detroit, which could be filled with people and companies. New life in an old building is something I love. (I'm not an architect or an engineer, just a big fan of Detroit, and its historic buildings.) Constructing brand new buildings are great too, because it shows the cities that do have the need for more technologically advanced buildings, with a new design. There are a couple of buildings in downtown Detroit that I think could use some occupying.
The Wurlitzer Building is one of the empty buildings. Most recently, the building has been the subject of news, considering its back wall has been failing and falling in the alley and on the building next to it. It is being cleaned up under supervision of Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Colombo. The former piano/organ company building is a 14-story structure located at 1509 Broadway St.
It would take a lot to renovate the building up to code, and of course replacing all the brick it has lost with the crumbling of the outer walls. What I could possibly see inside the Wurlitzer is another small boutique hotel or some lofts. It seems that lofts would be more plausible just because of its size. Something else that could also push it towards lofts more than anything is that it sits right next to the Metropolitan Building.
The Metropolitan Building is also vacant. It used to be a home to former jewelry stores, watchmakers, and beauty shops. It is on an angle though, a product of the design of Augustus Woodward's wheel spoke road plan. The Metropolitan is 15-stories tall is rumored to be turned into lofts, condos, and housing. If the Metropolitan is turned into housing, the Wurlitzer should too.
What ties both of these structures together is the open space next to it on the corner of Broadway and John R. Streets. Yes the People Mover runs right by both buildings, and in fact, one of the pillars is in that small space, but it can be used. The problem that faces them is parking, and that won't be fixed with that small space, so underground parking could be a choice, like what the Broderick Tower will be using under Grand Circus Park, or another parking structure (something that many people would just hate to see, including me).
The space could be turned into a usable building instead of just another parking lot. A small building could house a first floor retail or restaurant, second and third floor office space, fourth-sixth floors the people mover goes through the building, like the Millender Center, and the upper floors could be a gym/workout center for the owners. It is a long shot, but it's something that is plausible and I would really like to see.
One other building that I absolutely love is the former Detroit Riverside Hotel. It is located directly across the street from Cobo Center, right near the riverfront with amazing views of both the city and the water. Who wouldn't want to wake up to a view of both the city and the river? This building has been closed since 2009, and there are no current plans to renovate it.
With the recent push of hotels in the city now, including the Westin Book-Cadillac, the DoubleTree Fort Shelby, and the soon-to-be-renovated David Whitney Building into an Aloft Boutique hotel, this could work again. Yes, the Marriott at the Renaissance Center is right down the street, and most of the high-end visitors stay at the Book-Cadillac, the views could entice many to stay.
Although I would be worried about having another high-end hotel in the city, having a Hyatt in the city would show that the high-end hotel chain believes that the city can come back. Once again though, this could become residences. It is right in the heart of downtown Detroit, and I'm a bit surprised that there hasn't been much talk about using this for housing incentives. It was recently used, and it could easily be renovated much quicker than older buildings considering it was a hotel three years ago.
If this became another residence in downtown Detroit, considering that the Broderick Tower is over 50 percent booked, this should be a no-brainer that people would buy for the amazing views.
These are just a couple of the buildings that I love in the city of Detroit. Like I said, I'm not an architect or engineer, just a student, who has dreams to see this city live and breathe again.