DETROIT -

Construction has begun to redevelop downtown Detroit's historic, but empty David Whitney Building.

Once work is completed, the 19-story Woodward Avenue property will include a 136-room Aloft Detroit hotel and 105 one- and two-bedroom apartment units.

Gov. Rick Snyder switched on a ceremonial light during an event Thursday in the Whitney's expansive atrium, which is in disrepair and features graffiti.

The Republican governor says the property "was a problem for a lot of years" and now represents an opportunity.

Snyder says he hopes the work being done at the Whitney will lead to redevelopment projects elsewhere in the city.

The $82 million redevelopment project also will include the addition of a restaurant, lounge, fitness center and banquet space.

Whitney building 2

Read more: Dan Gilbert to unveil downtown Detroit development plan Thursday

Slideshow: Inside the Whitney Building during "The Next Big Thing" event in 2011