It took 90 years, but the David Stott Building has finally gotten the attention it deserves.
Bedrock Detroit, the Dan Gilbert–owned development firm, bought the Art Deco skyscraper in 2015 for $14.9 million and had been working on renovations for the past several years. It needed a lot of work—the previous owners, Shanghai-based investment firm DDI, did considerable damage to the historic building through just two years of mismanagement.
Now redevelopment on the Stott is complete—Bedrock finished the final pieces of restoration in summer 2019. It had been steadily opening floors and offering units for lease since 2018.
The total work required was extensive. There was damage from a substantial basement flood and malfunctioning elevators. Bedrock replaced of windows, terra cotta, and approximately 60,000 bricks on the exterior; installed new mechanical and electrical systems; and thoroughly cleaned of the ornamental ceiling lobby and marble floors.
In addition to restoration, Bedrock undertook the complicated task of converting 27 of the building’s 38 floors from offices to apartments to modern standards.
“The floor plan of this building is a square with a huge core in the center containing six elevators and a donut of office space around it—that’s not how you would design a residential building today,” says Melissa Dittmer, chief design officer at Bedrock. “We had to figure out how to take that historic floor plate and transition it to 2020 expectations.”
That resulted in some distinct floor plans at the narrow building, some of which wrap entirely around the elevator core.
“What we have now are a really unique and eclectic set of residences where you get historic details, nooks and crannies, that were elements of the office floor plates,” Dittmer says.
Those 107 units lease for between $1,420 for a studio to around $5,000 for a three-bedroom. There’s also ground-floor retail and still five floors of office.
Though the Stott is often overlooked in comparison to the nearby Guardian Building, it has many noteworthy architectural details, including sculptures by Corrado Parducci and a shimmering marble lobby and ornamental ceiling. Bedrock worked with Patrick Thompson Design and Kraemer Design Group to restore or recreate as many of the historic details as possible.
“You’re basically walking into that lobby as if you’re walking into the 1920s David Stott,” Dittmer says. “When the door for the elevator opens, that’s also the same as if you’re in the 1920s Stott. Go up to the lobby of your floor, the marble wainscoting on the walls is original.”
Dittmer says that this may be the first time since it opened that the Stott is operating “in its original essence.” Designed by renowned local architecture firm Donaldson and Meier, it was the fourth largest building in Detroit after it opened in 1929. But the Great Depression hit soon after and it’s undergone long periods of vacancy and neglect ever since.
In other words, it took almost a century for the David Stott Building to get the care and attention it deserves. How appropriate that the building also became 100 percent open right around its 90th birthday in June last year.