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Rendering of Cass & York near New Center.
McIntosh Poris Associates / VolumeOne Design

Mapping all the stalled, troubled, and dead developments in Detroit

These 18 projects may not materialize

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Rendering of Cass & York near New Center.
| McIntosh Poris Associates / VolumeOne Design

The last decade has, without question, been a remarkable period of development in Detroit. Historic structures have been restored, newer buildings constructed, and plenty more in the works.

But for all the developments that have come to fruition, quite a few announced themselves with beautiful renderings and intentions to build, but today seem unlikely to materialize. One major culprit for these unfinished buildings is the rising costs of construction—if it hasn’t killed a project, it’s likely to have caused it to scale back.

Without further ado, here are 18 projects that are either stalled, troubled, or abandoned completely.

Note: Projects listed from west to east.

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State Fair Grounds

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Basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has planned on developing at the State Fair Grounds near 8 Mile Road for years, but nothing has ever materialized. In March 2018, he finally bought a tiny portion of the 142-acre site, though hasn’t released any plans. The city of Detroit bought the rest of the land from the Michigan Land Bank but has yet to issue any RFPs.

City of Detroit

Lee Plaza

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This extravagant Art Deco building on West Grand Boulevard has been the subject of development rumors for years. In 2019, the city of Detroit sold the building to developers who presented a $50 million plan to turn it into 180 apartment units, many of which would be for low-income renters. We haven’t heard a peep since.

Cass & York

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Developers The Platform announced this ambitious $30 million luxury condo development near New Center in early 2018. By early 2019, it had already been scrapped due to rising construction costs.

Courtesy of The Platform

Baltimore Station 2

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Another development from The Platform, this 115,000-square-foot mixed-use building was originally expected to open in summer 2019, across the street from the now-complete Baltimore Station 1. We’re unsure about the state of the projec today, though The Platform’s website still has it slated for a “Winter 2020” opening.

The Platform

Woodward @ Midtown

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A development long in the making that’s never gotten off the ground. Formerly The Mondrian, then changed to Woodward @ Midtown, the most recent iteration of this mixed-use structure called for a five-story building with 104 apartments and ground-floor retail. Today, a “Coming Soon” sign sits at the edge of this grassy site.

Hamilton Anderson Associates

Alhambra Apartments

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One of many properties in the lower Cass Corridor owned by Olympia Development of Michigan, the Alhambra was supposed to converted into 46 apartments as part of its so-called District Detroit, which has any many surface parking lots as buildings. The Ilitch-owned develpment firm missed a deadline in 2018 and there’s been no movement since.

Many sites in District Detroit remain undeveloped, including historic structures like the Hotel Eddystone, Hotel Fort Wayne, and Detroit Creamery Co. Building.

A multi-story boarded up building whose bricks have been painted red and white. Photo by Michelle Gerard

This site was once speculated to be a destination for a Target, but then plans emerged for a multi-building office and retail project. But the “South of Mack” development has been stalled ever since. An article in the Detroit Free Press from 2019 said that the project “is gradually taking shape,” but we haven’t heard any definite news.

VolumeOne Design

The Leland Hotel

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Plans to renovate the Leland into 339 apartments at a cost of $120 million were announced in 2018. But it’s unclear how much, if any, work has been done since. We reached out to the general contractor, Rockford Construction, but did not hear back.

The developer, Michael Higgins, recently embarked another $22 million mixed-use project in the West Village.

Park Avenue Building

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“The Last Dangerous Building Downtown” was falling apart (literally) in April 2018. Soon after, it found a new owner, Rino Soave, who announced an approximately $10 million renovation. There’s been no update since and it’s unclear how much work has been done.

Google Street View

Brush Park South

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In 2016, a development team proposed three mixed-use apartment buildings on a 3.4-acre site at the southern edge of Brush Park. But the city never sold the land to the development team of RHEAL Capital Management LLC and Schostak Bros. & Co. because rising construction costs made the project untenable.

Hamilton Anderson Associates

Capitol Park high-rise

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In 2016, the Capitol Park Partnership announced construction of two buildings with eye-catching designs, including this 11-story apartment building behind the Book Cadillac. They never came to fruition.

Zago Architecture

Detroit Opera House expansion

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Last year, Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the Michigan Opera Theatre wanted to build a mixed-use, 34-story high-rise on the surface parking lot behind the Detroit Opera House. But earlier this year, the MOT said that it “decided not to proceed at this time.”

Albert Kahn Associates

Brewster-Wheeler Recreation Center

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Plans to redevelop the last remaining building in the Brewster-Douglass housing project were announced way back in 2015. Developers KC Crain and Curt Catallo wanted to convert the building into 150-units of housing with a restaurant component. According to the Detroit Free Press, the city eventually sold the site in 2018, and the developers have spent money prepping it, but a full-scale redevelopment has not begun.

City of Detroit

Hastings Place

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Hiram Jackson and Paradise Valley Real Estate Holdings II announced plans to build 60-unit apartment building as part of a huge push to redevelop Paradise Valley. Today, the sites remain surface parking lots.

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Monroe Blocks

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This mega-development from Bedrock Detroit is expected to bring 847,000 square feet of office space, an estimated 482 residential units, and 117,000 square feet of retail space. After breaking ground in December 2018, however, little work has taken place at the site. The project is currently undergoing a redesign and has been pushed back in Bedrock’s development pipeline.

In the foreground is a courtyard with trees and a large pedestrian space. There are people in the courtyard. Surrounding the courtyard are various city buildings. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Russell Flats

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This mixed-use building in Eastern Market was originally supposed to be 60 units, then got expanded to 82 units, now seems to be dead. The developers, Jonna Luxury Homes, are also behind a failed luxury condo development in Birmingham, which may be why this project hasn’t come to fruition.

Hamilton Anderson Associates

Stone Soap Building

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Renovation of this dormant warehouse building was announced in 2017 as part of the redevelopment of the East Riverfront. After an RFP, a developer was announced (Banyan), as well as a $35 million plan to build 63 residential units. But by May last year, bricks were falling off the building and no major work had been done.

Packard Automotive Plant

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Is it fair to say that plans have stalled on a project that seemed too ambitious to begin with? Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo bought the crumbling, enormous plant and planned to redevelop it in phases. The first $17 million phase broke ground in 2017. Since then, the iconic bridge across East Grand has collapsed and news broke that the developer owed $185,000 in overdue taxes. Not great signs.

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State Fair Grounds

Basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has planned on developing at the State Fair Grounds near 8 Mile Road for years, but nothing has ever materialized. In March 2018, he finally bought a tiny portion of the 142-acre site, though hasn’t released any plans. The city of Detroit bought the rest of the land from the Michigan Land Bank but has yet to issue any RFPs.

City of Detroit

Lee Plaza

This extravagant Art Deco building on West Grand Boulevard has been the subject of development rumors for years. In 2019, the city of Detroit sold the building to developers who presented a $50 million plan to turn it into 180 apartment units, many of which would be for low-income renters. We haven’t heard a peep since.

Cass & York

Developers The Platform announced this ambitious $30 million luxury condo development near New Center in early 2018. By early 2019, it had already been scrapped due to rising construction costs.

Courtesy of The Platform

Baltimore Station 2

Another development from The Platform, this 115,000-square-foot mixed-use building was originally expected to open in summer 2019, across the street from the now-complete Baltimore Station 1. We’re unsure about the state of the projec today, though The Platform’s website still has it slated for a “Winter 2020” opening.

The Platform

Woodward @ Midtown

A development long in the making that’s never gotten off the ground. Formerly The Mondrian, then changed to Woodward @ Midtown, the most recent iteration of this mixed-use structure called for a five-story building with 104 apartments and ground-floor retail. Today, a “Coming Soon” sign sits at the edge of this grassy site.

Hamilton Anderson Associates

Alhambra Apartments

One of many properties in the lower Cass Corridor owned by Olympia Development of Michigan, the Alhambra was supposed to converted into 46 apartments as part of its so-called District Detroit, which has any many surface parking lots as buildings. The Ilitch-owned develpment firm missed a deadline in 2018 and there’s been no movement since.

Many sites in District Detroit remain undeveloped, including historic structures like the Hotel Eddystone, Hotel Fort Wayne, and Detroit Creamery Co. Building.

A multi-story boarded up building whose bricks have been painted red and white. Photo by Michelle Gerard

SoMa

This site was once speculated to be a destination for a Target, but then plans emerged for a multi-building office and retail project. But the “South of Mack” development has been stalled ever since. An article in the Detroit Free Press from 2019 said that the project “is gradually taking shape,” but we haven’t heard any definite news.

VolumeOne Design

The Leland Hotel

Plans to renovate the Leland into 339 apartments at a cost of $120 million were announced in 2018. But it’s unclear how much, if any, work has been done since. We reached out to the general contractor, Rockford Construction, but did not hear back.

The developer, Michael Higgins, recently embarked another $22 million mixed-use project in the West Village.

Park Avenue Building

“The Last Dangerous Building Downtown” was falling apart (literally) in April 2018. Soon after, it found a new owner, Rino Soave, who announced an approximately $10 million renovation. There’s been no update since and it’s unclear how much work has been done.

Google Street View

Brush Park South

In 2016, a development team proposed three mixed-use apartment buildings on a 3.4-acre site at the southern edge of Brush Park. But the city never sold the land to the development team of RHEAL Capital Management LLC and Schostak Bros. & Co. because rising construction costs made the project untenable.

Hamilton Anderson Associates

Capitol Park high-rise

In 2016, the Capitol Park Partnership announced construction of two buildings with eye-catching designs, including this 11-story apartment building behind the Book Cadillac. They never came to fruition.

Zago Architecture

Detroit Opera House expansion

Last year, Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the Michigan Opera Theatre wanted to build a mixed-use, 34-story high-rise on the surface parking lot behind the Detroit Opera House. But earlier this year, the MOT said that it “decided not to proceed at this time.”

Albert Kahn Associates

Brewster-Wheeler Recreation Center

Plans to redevelop the last remaining building in the Brewster-Douglass housing project were announced way back in 2015. Developers KC Crain and Curt Catallo wanted to convert the building into 150-units of housing with a restaurant component. According to the Detroit Free Press, the city eventually sold the site in 2018, and the developers have spent money prepping it, but a full-scale redevelopment has not begun.

City of Detroit

Hastings Place

Hiram Jackson and Paradise Valley Real Estate Holdings II announced plans to build 60-unit apartment building as part of a huge push to redevelop Paradise Valley. Today, the sites remain surface parking lots.

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Monroe Blocks

This mega-development from Bedrock Detroit is expected to bring 847,000 square feet of office space, an estimated 482 residential units, and 117,000 square feet of retail space. After breaking ground in December 2018, however, little work has taken place at the site. The project is currently undergoing a redesign and has been pushed back in Bedrock’s development pipeline.

In the foreground is a courtyard with trees and a large pedestrian space. There are people in the courtyard. Surrounding the courtyard are various city buildings. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Russell Flats

This mixed-use building in Eastern Market was originally supposed to be 60 units, then got expanded to 82 units, now seems to be dead. The developers, Jonna Luxury Homes, are also behind a failed luxury condo development in Birmingham, which may be why this project hasn’t come to fruition.

Hamilton Anderson Associates

Stone Soap Building

Renovation of this dormant warehouse building was announced in 2017 as part of the redevelopment of the East Riverfront. After an RFP, a developer was announced (Banyan), as well as a $35 million plan to build 63 residential units. But by May last year, bricks were falling off the building and no major work had been done.

Packard Automotive Plant

Is it fair to say that plans have stalled on a project that seemed too ambitious to begin with? Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo bought the crumbling, enormous plant and planned to redevelop it in phases. The first $17 million phase broke ground in 2017. Since then, the iconic bridge across East Grand has collapsed and news broke that the developer owed $185,000 in overdue taxes. Not great signs.