The Ilitches have gotten a lot of criticism for poor stewardship of their Detroit properties. Redevelopment of at least one building seems well underway.
The development arm of the Little Caesars family, Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM), provided guests with a tour and update of its redevelopment of the Eddystone Hotel, a nearly 100-year-old Italian Renaissance building that’s down the block from Little Caesars Arena.
Restoration work on the 13-story, Louis Kamper–designed building began in August last year.
“A little more than 50 percent” of the shell has been restored, according to Brian Rebain, principal with Kraemer Design Group, the project’s architect. That work includes cleaning and replacing the ground-floor limestone, cream-colored brick, and terra cotta decorations around the windows and cornice.
New galvanized steel and windows are being installed as well. “A lot of work has been done so far, but there’s still many months to go,” Rebain said.
Inside, the building has been cleaned with debris removed. Despite being vacant since the late 1990s and exposed to the elements and scrappers, Rebain said the most important feature, the steel-framed concrete roof, is intact and the building suffered little water damage.
A preview of the 13th floor and lobby showed a shell with no finished walls or floors. Work on the building’s core is underway as well.
The Eddystone Hotel has had a long road to restoration. The building was bought by the Ilitches and saved from demolition as part of an agreement in which Olympia did demolish its neighbor, the Park Avenue Hotel. In 2017, the company announced plans to turn it into a 96-unit apartment building, but missed deadlines. It then reached an agreement with the city to undertake a $40.9 million development. The city of Detroit demanded a $33 million performance bond in case the project isn’t completed.
Now, ODM is saying the cost to redevelop will be $35 million, a rare downward estimate as costs for construction rise throughout the city. There will also be 92 apartments—a mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom units—as well as ground-floor retail. ODM says 20 percent will be reserved as “affordable.”
It now has an estimated complete date of fall 2021.
In the past year, the Ilitches have seemingly begun to acknowledge criticism of their ambitious and unfulfilled plans for the District Detroit. It hired some development professionals, and began work on the Women’s City Club building and other projects.
The company still has a long way to go regain the public’s trust after years of stalled projects and excessive building demolitions. Completing the Eddystone would be a good first step.