Detroit witnessed two very different experiences over the past week regarding historic properties, with one enjoying an extensive renovation while was reduced to rubble.
Fox 2 Detroit reported the city’s historic Book Tower is being readied for reopening following a seven-year, $300 million restoration project. The building first opened in 1926 and for a while was Detroit’s tallest building, but it fell on hard times when the city went into an economic decline and it stood vacant for several years.
The renovated property now includes 269 condominium units, 117 extended stay hotel suites, five restaurants and a lobby area bar.
“It’s an amazing feeling and just to know that this is going to get reactivated and people are going to be able to come and use this old building that you know, once upon a time, we didn’t know if it was going to live or not,” said Randy Book, executive vice president at Colliers International.
But while the Book Tower received a new lease on life, a historic building in Detroit’s Chinatown was demolished despite attempts to save it.
One Detroit reported the 140-year-old Chinese Merchant Association Building at 3143 Cass Avenue was torn down on July 29 despite attempts by Asian American groups to preserve the property for its historical and spiritual significance to the neighborhood. But the municipal government sent wildly mixed signals regarding its fate: city officials said the building posed a public safety hazard and its owners, Olympia Development of Michigan, obtained a permit to have it torn down, even though the Detroit City Council voted unanimously to stop the demolition.
The building represented a last remnant of Detroit’s Chinatown, which moved out of the city with the construction of the Lodge Freeway in the 1960s and the exodus of many Asian Americans to the suburbs in the 1970s.
Photo of the Book Tower via Sandertheone / Wikimedia Commons