6 Detroit buildings without redevelopment plans

Old AMC Headquarters in Northwest Detroit. (Google Maps)
Old AMC Headquarters in Northwest Detroit. (Google Maps)

DETROIT – One by one, it seems, many of Detroit's still-standing buildings are being purchased and redeveloped for the modern world.

But some are being left behind.

One of the biggest - the Michigan Central Station in Corktown - was purchased by Ford this month, marking one of the biggest redevelopment stories of the year.

Other buildings or even former sites have seen new life, including the old Hudson's site, the Book Tower, the old Detroit Free Press and Detroit News buildings, the Detroit Club, Willis Show Bar and the David Whitney Building, to name a few.

Still, some are lagging behind on the redevelopment front. Here are some notable vacant buildings without redevelopment plans in Detroit:

CPA Building - Corktown

This vacant building, sitting on the busy corner of Michigan Avenue and 14th Street, near Slows Bar BQ and across from Michigan Central Station, has been the subject of demolition rumors for year.

Opened in 1923, the CPA building was not for accounting. It was the home of the Conductors Protective Association - the union office for train station employees. 

Last year, a sign popped up stating a Trader Joe's would be taking over the building. It was not true.

Lee Plaza - NW Goldberg

This towering Art Deco style landmark has been shuttered for more than 20 years.

Lee Plaza has sat on West Grand Boulevard near Bishop Park since 1927. It closed in 1997.

Named after Ralph T. Lee, a man who made a fortune in the real estate business, the 17-story building cost $2.5 million to build.

The building has a long, long history and we're not going to detail it all here. If you're interested, check out Historic Detroit's profile on Lee Plaza here.

In recent years, there have been reports of possible buyers, but nothing official has come of it just yet.

Vanity Ballroom - East side near Jefferson Chalmers

Opened in 1929 and closed in 1988, the Vanity Ballroom on Detroit's east side hosted musicians big and small.

The venue opened on the eve of the 1929 stock market crash, but still became one of the city's most popular dance and music venues. Performers included Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Prima, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Cab Calloway.

As ballroom dancing faded from public interest, the venue fell on hard times. It was sold in 1971 and became host to rock and roll acts like Detroit's MC5, Ted Nugent and The Stooges. 

After many resurrection attempts with different types of entertainment business models, the venue finally closed for good in 1988. In May 2008, the Vanity was included on a Preservation Detroit list of 10 endangered Detroit buildings.

Jefferson East Group has done some work to restore and shop the building, as of 2016.

Read more on its history here from Historic Detroit. 

Grande Ballroom - Petosky-Otsego

Opened in 1928, this rock and roll music venue hosted some of the biggest acts in America. 

Often connected with the Vanity Ballroom, the Grande was arguably the birthplace of punk and hard rock in Detroit.

It was the go-to spot for young Detroiters looking to have a rockin' time. Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, the Yardbirds, Cream, Pink Floyd, Canned Heat, the Jeff Beck Group, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, the Velvet Underground, Canned Heat, the Steve Miller Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Blue Cheer, Tim Buckley and more all played the Grande.

The Grande has been closed since 1972. The current owners, Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and the Friends of the Grande Ballroom are actively working to figure out what's next for the building. 

More history on the Grande Ballroom here from Historic Detroit.

Deutsches Haus - Indian Village

This old ethnic hall opened in 1926 with a 1,600 person auditorium, meeting rooms and a bowling alley. It was used by Detroit's German community.

The building is still in decent shape, but there aren't any plans underway. 

AMC Headquarters - Northwest Detroit

Fully vacant since 2009, the former home of the Kelvinator Corporation, American Motors Corporation and eventually Chrysler, the former AMC HQ building could have signs of life.

The building was included in a land swap deal between Wayne County and Dan Gilbert. 

Wayne County would acquire part of the Detroit Department of Transportation property bounded by the I-75 Service Drive and East Warren Avenue, where Gilbert would build the jail complex in exchange for the Gratiot Avenue site where the county's jail construction failed.

In exchange for the DDOT property, Detroit would acquire the former American Motors Corp. (AMC) headquarters near Plymouth Road and Schaefer Highway on Detroit’s west side, which is currently owned by the Land Bank. 

It's unclear what the future redevelopment plans are, but at least there's movement!

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