The Book Tower in downtown Detroit is one of the last great skyscrapers that has avoided both demo and reno. It is adjoined by the Book Building, a shorter Italian Renaissance-style companion. With the Book-Cadillac Hotel renovated a few years ago, the Broderick Tower now apartments, and the David Whitney building on the way towards hotel/residences, are the Book owners now spurred to develop it? The building is owned by AKNO Enterprises of Vancouver, British Columbia, who bought it after the previous owners filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
At one point, ANKO racked up a $87,000 unpaid utility bill, forcing DTE Energy to shut off electricity to the skyscraper, which quickly lost all tenants (including the bar Bookies) after that. The firm also owed nearly $20,000 in past-due water bills. Back in 2009, a Detroit City Council group announced a contract with the Book's owners to turn the complex into 260 eco-friendly residences and retail. But construction never started.
However, Curbed has obtained a document dated June 25, 2013 that might indicated a change is coming. The Owners listed in the document, ANKO Enterprises Michigan Book Tower LLC, have filed papers with the city seeking a tax abatement for renovating a distressed property. They want to establish what is called an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District, and attached a document that outlines a renovation plan.
The renovation plan document dates back to September 2012, with an update written in April 2013. The plans are for the Book Tower, the Book Building, and the adjoining two-story building to the south. The renovation described includes apartments for floors 4-36 and retail and commercial space for the basement floor up to the third. The document explains that declining demand for office space forced the building to close, but an adaptive reuse project to turn it into apartments will bring it back to life.
The Book brothers (J. Burgess Jr., Herbert, and Frank) had the Book Building designed by Louis Kamper; it opened in 1917 as a 13-story Italian Renaissance office building. Adjacent to that, the more impressive 36-story Book Tower, also a Kamper, opened in 1926.
If ANKO gets the plans rolling, this will be huge. At this point, we have no idea if they have the money for this venture. Anyone know more? Our tipline is open.
· What is Going On In This Image of The Book Tower? [Curbed Detroit]
· Book Tower and Book Building [Historic Detroit]