One of Detroit's great, abandoned buildings will be reborn as an extended stay hotel with retail spaces on the first floor. The Detroit News reports that the Metropolitan Building, constructed in 1925 and originally home to high-end jewelry and clothing businesses, will have its long-anticipated second act as an extended stay hotel and retail property.
During Wednesday's Downtown Development Authority meeting, the board approved the new plan for the hotel (as opposed to the original plan for apartments we wrote about this spring). The city still owns the building until development is complete. The developer, Metropolitan Development Group, got approval for up to 130 hotel rooms, and hopes to land a restaurant tenant to anchor the first floor retail space.
The developers haven't named the hotel chain they've involved in the new plan, because they needed the DDA's approval before making things official. The DDA board asked Metropolitan Development to come up with a timeline for the project, which the developer has tentatively targeted for completion sometime in 2017.
While we're excited about the Metropolitan's future—not to mention about saving the building from the wrecking ball—its past is grand and worth remembering. Given modern Detroit's explosive development, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the city has always had Dan Gilbert-style real estate men. In 1919, the Central Detroit Realty Co led by VP George Yost, dreamed up the Metropolitan.
Yost wanted to bring a collection of retail assets together in a central location. The plan took six years to execute and included razing the old Detroit Times building. Yost told the Detroit Free Press he wanted the Metropolitan to be "at once beautiful, accessible and practical." Designed by Harold Slaight Ellington and William C. Weston, the Gothic Revival wedge features escutcheons and stone carvings depicting armor.
Vacant since 1978 when the city took possession via foreclosure, today the Metropolitan awaits its new life. While we'll be waiting a while to see what developers do with the space, let's hope they can restore it to at least a fraction of its original glory.