Here's a sentence with the power to make any Detroiter shudder: The Fisher Building is headed to auction this summer. Dwindling tenant numbers have pushed the Fisher into foreclosure, and now the 30-story Art Deco landmark faces the ultimate indignity: a stint on Auction.com.
As the anchor of New Center and one of Detroit's most important landmarks, the stakes couldn't be any higher. Except they are. The auction also includes the Albert Kahn Building, a smaller Art Deco building across 2nd Avenue. The two buildings add up to nearly one million square feet.
The Fisher's symbolic value in Detroit can't really be overstated. Opened in 1927, it's the masterpiece of Detroit's master architect, Albert Kahn. The dazzling lobby is rivaled only by that the Guardian Building. Because it stands alone in New Center, the Fisher's tower sticks out of the Detroit landscape like the Washington Monument. At night, it's visible for miles.
Perhaps Dan Gilbert will use the opportunity expand his downtown empire into New Center. Even Packard Plant owner Fernando Palazuelo is expected to jump in. But then there's DDI Group, the auction-loving Chinese corporation that won the Stott and Free Press buildings in 2013 before letting them rot. The Fisher and Kahn buildings might be too much property for them to swallow, but again—just knowing they could make a play is enough to make one shudder.
· Fisher Building History [HistoricDetroit.org]
· Albert Kahn Building History [HistoricDetroit.org]
· Fisher Building in Detroit to hit auction block in June [Freep]