Royal Oak resident and founder of TextsFromLastNight.com, Benjamin Bator, knows a thing or two about what is up-and-coming and he thinks there is a good thing going in Corktown right now. In our ongoing series asking locals which buildings they'd like to see redeveloped next, he's voting for a gem off Michigan Ave. You probably know it as the CPA building thanks to the sign over the door from the Conductors Protective Association, a union organization.
Every time I go to Corktown I look at the CPA building (across the street from Slow's, across Michigan from the ruin porn capital of the world) and see a thriving boutique hotel. The first floor is mixed retail—a men's clothing store, a breakfast joint with some offensively good breakfast sandwiches, and a hotel bar that makes you feel like you're three-deep at Bemelman's Bar at the Carlysle in NYC. There's a small check-in area with staff that is eager to help you discover the Detroit that we know and love. The rooms are wonderfully arranged spaces that make guests feel cozy, yet connected to the city thanks to the stunning views of the Detroit skyline, Ambassador Bridge, and of course, the gorgeously decrepit Michigan Central Station. There's a rooftop garden and sitting area that keeps changing. One summer it's a biergarden, the next a private rooftop bar, and one winter it could have an igloo on it with an adjacent skating rink. To get around the city, a deal has been worked out with Ford, or GM, or maybe it's Fiat/Chrysler— regardless of the brand, guests have the option to rent one of their fantastic small cars for whatever trip sounds interesting. Okay, okay, that's not entirely true. I do see the CPA building, but instead of a hotel sign and guest service staff, I see an O'Connor sign and a lot of promise. I know, we have hotels and will soon have our very own 'boutique', but I'm more excited by Honor + Folly than Starwood Points. Besides, Detroit is like the Ace Hotel of cities, it's time our visitors had a place to stay that feels like it.
The current owners of the CPA are trying to dump it right now. But at an asking price of $ 1.4 M it's up there for a rehab project. However, the buyer would score the whole block from 14th to 15th street along Michigan Ave and that it is still much less than the new owners of what will be the David Whitney boutique hotel paid. The Roxbury Group bought the new source for Starwood points for $3.3 M which is being developed by the Aloft brand. Bator's suggestion would appeal to an entirely different crowd which Ace would fit like a glove. That brand of hotels began in 1999 when Alex Calderwood, Wade Weigel, and Doug Herrick purchased and transformed a Seattle halfway house into a creative up-and-comer's hotel hot spot. So who can we text to get them into town?