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Curbed Detroit’s most popular stories of 2019

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Check out the most-read articles from the past year

Three small single-story homes, colored blue, red, and white, sit in a row behind well-mowed lawns. Photo by Michelle Gerard

We covered a wide variety of stories at Curbed Detroit in 2019. Readers could find articles about the history of black architects in Detroit, why Hart Plaza deserves more credit, whether or not anything can be built in Detroit without subsidies, and much more.

But what were readers’ favorite stories from 2019? If we’re measuring by most read, then it’s these 12 pieces, starting with our most popular article of the year.

Also, be sure to check out our favorite longreads from 2019.

Exterior of a brown brick Tudor with some light frost on the yard out front. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard
Aretha Franklin’s former Detroit home is for sale

The Queen of Soul’s home went up for sale not once, but twice in 2019—first for $750,000 and then again for $600,000. That after Anthony O. Kellum bought the home in October 2018 for $300,000 and said he would restore Tudor Revival beauty.

People ogled over the 5,623-square-foot “Rose Estate” with its pink master bed, striking red claw-foot bathtub, multi-colored tile bathroom, and huge rose carpet in the foyer. But major renovations are necessary and it doesn’t seem much work has been done.

The Element Detroit Hotel opens in historic Metropolitan Building

Perhaps no redevelopment in Detroit was as daunting as the Metropolitan Building.

The 14-story Neo-Gothic office building built in 1925 had been abandoned for 40 years. During that time, scrappers had taken most parts of value and the city had even erected nets to catch debris from its collapsing facade. Despite those challenges, the building opened as Element Detroit at the Metropolitan Building, an extended-stay, 110-room hotel in January this year.

No wonder people were so excited to read about it.

A Renaissance Revival stone courthouse with columns at the front entrance and copper statues on the roof. Photo by Michelle Gerard
15 dormant buildings in Detroit awaiting life

While Detroit has experienced unprecedented redevelopment in the past decade, a number of vacant and abandoned buildings are still waiting for the right plan to emerge and save them.

Readers also weren’t surprised to know that many of these buildings are owned by the Ilitches.

Downtown Detroit Markets to re-open for winter season

Y’all love the Downtown Detroit Markets. Sponsored by Bedrock and the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the markets feature local vendors selling goods out of glass sheds in Cadillac Square and Capitol Park.

This was the third year the markets were in operation. The 17 businesses will sell their last products at the popup on January 1.

In the foreground is a courtyard where people are walking. Surrounding the courtyard are buildings. Two of the buildings are tall skyscrapers. It is evening and the sky is purple and blue. inFORM Studio
$310 million, two skyscraper development coming to Midtown

The largest development north of Mack Avenue got readers incredibly excited. The project, dubbed The Mid, will be a pair of 25- and 30-floor buildings that feature a hotel, luxury condos, rental apartments, retail, and a plaza on lots just north of Whole Foods.

The project went through the community benefits process and was expected to break ground in September, though it’s unclear how much progress has been made.

How these Detroit neighborhoods got their unique names

Curbed readers were very keen to learn the history of some of Detroit’s more peculiar neighborhood names. For example, did you know Nortown refers to a person and not a geographic location? Or that Piety Hill was actually created to disparage the self-righteous residents of the neighborhood?

If you’re at all interested in Detroit history, be sure to check that one out.

Six new ‘tiny homes’ financed, another six nearly complete

Tiny homes have always been a popular topic among Curbed readers since the little (no pun intended) community started to rise in 2017.

This 2019 update featured six uniquely designed homes, including one that looks like a farm house and another with a curved roof. There’s now 13 tiny homes in total, which measure 250- to 400 square feet and are for people who make between $7,000 and $15,000 a year.

Photo by Evan Thomas
Most popular homes

A lot of great homes went up for sale this year. Rather than list your favorites all separately, we’re just going to include the five most popular ones here.