$32M redevelopment project kicks off at Detroit's Metropolitan Building

Project is scheduled for completion in summer 2018

Left: Photo of building from 2010. Right: Rendering of building after renovation.

DETROIT - One of Detroit's largest - and vacant - skyscrapers is beginning construction on a new, mixed-use development.

On Tuesday, Metropolitan Hotel Partners, a joint venture between Detroit developers Means Group and Roxbury Group — along with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, project partners and community members — officially commemorated the start of construction on the $32 million redevelopment of the Metropolitan Building in downtown Detroit. 

“Roxbury and the Means Group are honored to be returning this truly unique and irreplaceable building to active use,” said David Di Rita, principal of the Roxbury Group. “It is particularly gratifying to be restoring a building that so many said couldn’t be saved, while providing another world-class hotel to Detroit’s entertainment district.”

The Metropolitan Building — 33 John R St., between Woodward and Broadway — will be renovated into the state’s first Element Hotel, an extended-stay hotel under the Starwood collection. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2018.  Named “Element Detroit at the Metropolitan Building,” the hotel will feature 110 one- and two-bedroom extended-stay hotel rooms, 2,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space on the second-floor mezzanine, and about 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and lower level. One of the crowning features will be a signature rooftop bar and patio with stunning views of downtown Detroit and the Metropolitan’s incredible terra cotta details.

“We look forward to introducing Element to Detroit with this exciting adaptive re-use project that will retain the historic charm of the Metropolitan Building, while turning it into a sleek and stylish destination for travelers visiting the Motor City,” Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of Specialty Select Brands for Starwood said when the project was announced last summer.

The redevelopment of the Metropolitan Building is supported by financing from Huntington Bank and Develop Michigan Inc., and will be utilizing new market tax credits through Invest Detroit and Chase, historic tax credits through investment by Insite Capital and incentive support from the State of Michigan’s Community Revitalization Program. The property was owned by the City of Detroit before being sold to the developers last summer as part of an agreement for its redevelopment.

“I am so excited to see this building redeveloped after 38 years of vacancy,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Just a few years ago there was little hope that this historic building would ever be redeveloped and now it’s a sign of how far we've come as a city.”

The Metropolitan Building was designed by the firm Weston & Ellington and opened May 25, 1925, on John R Street between Woodward Avenue and Broadway. The 14-story Neo-Gothic tower stands like a medieval castle, a stone’s throw from Grand Circus Park and is part of the Grand Circus Park Historic District.

The building was primarily a jewelry emporium, housing everything from diamond-cutters to silver workers to goldsmiths, as well as jewelry stores on the lower levels. When the Metropolitan opened, the Detroit Free Press proclaimed it “a perfect example of Gothic architecture” and “one of the most unique shopping and merchandising centers ever built in America.” However, as downtown Detroit fell on hard times, the Metropolitan closed in early 1979 and has stood empty for 38 years.

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