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  1. #551

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    The great fan vaulting along the ceiling of the United Artists was patterned on the Perpendicular Gothic ceiling (circa AD 1500) of the great Henry VII Chapel at the back of Westminster Abbey.

    C. Howard Crane's knowledge of historic architectural styles was never in doubt. Crane said that if the architecture of the venue was pleasing to the eye, it would be pleasing to the ear as well... hence the wonderful acoustics.

    Sadly neither Emmett Moten nor the Ilitches has any clue about what will likely be lost...
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #552

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    https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitm...rt%20FINAL.pdf

    There’s a good amount of pictures towards the end showing the interior of the building/theater and it’s current condition.

  3. #553

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    Thanks, this really shows the condition the theater is currently in, which is something I've been wondering. It looks pretty rough, but not as bad as I thought and there is still quite a bit of plaster and detailing to be found. The lobby looks much better and at least two of the maidens still exist (page 109)!

    It doesn't look like a lost cause to me, but of course I'm biased :-). It seems like a shame to tear this down for 20 or so parking spaces :-(

  4. #554

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    Quote Originally Posted by bpstrat View Post
    Thanks, this really shows the condition the theater is currently in, which is something I've been wondering. It looks pretty rough, but not as bad as I thought and there is still quite a bit of plaster and detailing to be found. The lobby looks much better and at least two of the maidens still exist (page 109)!

    It doesn't look like a lost cause to me, but of course I'm biased :-). It seems like a shame to tear this down for 20 or so parking spaces :-(
    I agree with you... much of what we see is the outer shell in areas where the plasterwork has deteriorated. But so much of what was installed originally had lots of repetition of reuse of plaster molds. That can be done again, as it was in Orchestra Hall and the Detroit Opera House.

    The only thing that has me worried is what looks like the use of jacks holding up the balcony overhang. If that is the case, then that would be a major structural issue.

    And yes I too was surprised to see that there are surviving plaster Indian maiden busts that didn't get taken out by scrappers.

  5. #555

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    Quote Originally Posted by bpstrat View Post
    It doesn't look like a lost cause to me, but of course I'm biased :-). It seems like a shame to tear this down for 20 or so parking spaces :-(
    It would be an act of civic vandalism. Something the Ilitches are unfortunately not unfamiliar with.

    As for that report, you would think that someone could have at least held their phone steady when they took the pictures. But from what one can see, the plaster work looks more intact than I would have thought. It certainly doesn't look much worse than the pre-renovation shots of Orchestra Hall or the Opera House/Broadway Capital, or the Book Cadillac for that matter. It looks just as salvageable as those places were, with the application of care and money. Of course, if the Ilitch family and/or Moten have to come up with a reason to tear it down that's better than "we need a little more parking", I'm sure they will. Then the place will need a $avior.

  6. #556

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    The worst damage was to the rotunda lobby (grand foyer)... which is 8 sided. I do recall seeing (elsewhere, not in these images) that at least one of the 8 sides to the repetitive circular lobby has its' plasterwork intact... which means that molds could be made to replicate the other 7 sides. So even that space could be recreated in plaster.

    Also, an image reminder showing how bad the Opera House (Capitol Theatre) looked before/after restoration.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  7. #557

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    I'm glad to see they're planning a more traditional renovation of the bottom two floors. The original renderings showed those floors maintaining its mid century modern architecture it currently has. Some of the units are two levels too, which is relatively rare in Detroit at the moment. If the theater was to be restored this would have the potential to be a game changing project, but with the loss of the theater it just seems like an average reno.

  8. #558

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    The Detroit HDC meets on Wednesday to talk about this project.

    Go and voice your opinions.

    https://detroitmi.gov/events/regular...KG3M1t9v_1FWJs

  9. #559

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    Anyone attend the meeting? How did it go?

  10. #560

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    Quote Originally Posted by NSortzi View Post
    Anyone attend the meeting? How did it go?
    They didn't get to the theater demolition until 4 1/2 hours into the meeting. A representative of either the architect or developer spoke in favor of the demo. He said HUD wouldn't provide funding unless the theater portion was demo'ed. He also said the purpose of the demo was NOT to add more parking spaces.

    He also said the theater was beyond repair, that it would actually cost less to build a brand new UA theater, and he made a good point in that the EXTERIOR portion of the theater is not attractive (remember portions of the theater were built behind the old Tuller Hotel and was not meant to be seen, so that portion was not made aesthetically pleasing).

    Only 2 people came out to speak against the demo: the president of Preservation Wayne and activist Francis Grunow.

    The question at hand was: will the demolition of the theater portion of the building negatively impact the surrounding designated historic districts in that part of downtown - The commission agreed that it would negatively impact that area.

  11. #561

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    Quote Originally Posted by masterblaster View Post
    They didn't get to the theater demolition until 4 1/2 hours into the meeting. A representative of either the architect or developer spoke in favor of the demo. He said HUD wouldn't provide funding unless the theater portion was demo'ed. He also said the purpose of the demo was NOT to add more parking spaces.

    He also said the theater was beyond repair, that it would actually cost less to build a brand new UA theater, and he made a good point in that the EXTERIOR portion of the theater is not attractive (remember portions of the theater were built behind the old Tuller Hotel and was not meant to be seen, so that portion was not made aesthetically pleasing).

    Only 2 people came out to speak against the demo: the president of Preservation Wayne and activist Francis Grunow.

    The question at hand was: will the demolition of the theater portion of the building negatively impact the surrounding designated historic districts in that part of downtown - The commission agreed that it would negatively impact that area.
    So if the theatre is not approved for demolition, does that mean Illitch wins a consolation victory in that he can say to the city: “I can’t/haven’t redeveloped the United Artist building portion as promised, because the authorities won’t let me demo the theatre to (supposedly) get my loan.”

    Maybe that was the plan all along. As now Illitch can continue to do nothing... but this time with an “excuse”.
    Last edited by Atticus; November-14-19 at 12:42 PM.

  12. #562

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    Quote Originally Posted by masterblaster View Post
    They didn't get to the theater demolition until 4 1/2 hours into the meeting. A representative of either the architect or developer spoke in favor of the demo. He said HUD wouldn't provide funding unless the theater portion was demo'ed. He also said the purpose of the demo was NOT to add more parking spaces.

    He also said the theater was beyond repair, that it would actually cost less to build a brand new UA theater, and he made a good point in that the EXTERIOR portion of the theater is not attractive (remember portions of the theater were built behind the old Tuller Hotel and was not meant to be seen, so that portion was not made aesthetically pleasing).

    Only 2 people came out to speak against the demo: the president of Preservation Wayne and activist Francis Grunow.

    The question at hand was: will the demolition of the theater portion of the building negatively impact the surrounding designated historic districts in that part of downtown - The commission agreed that it would negatively impact that area.
    I am torn about this. I absolutely want to see the theater saved. However, is the current status of the neighborhood better with an empty building and theater, or an active building with a torn down theater? That debate has torn at me in this entire matter. I feel bad either way I go about justifying one or the other. I know the historic commissions's objective is not to look at the neighborhood, but the historic value. But the whole matter is tough to tackle.

  13. #563

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    Quote Originally Posted by masterblaster View Post
    They didn't get to the theater demolition until 4 1/2 hours into the meeting. A representative of either the architect or developer spoke in favor of the demo. He said HUD wouldn't provide funding unless the theater portion was demo'ed. He also said the purpose of the demo was NOT to add more parking spaces.

    He also said the theater was beyond repair, that it would actually cost less to build a brand new UA theater, and he made a good point in that the EXTERIOR portion of the theater is not attractive (remember portions of the theater were built behind the old Tuller Hotel and was not meant to be seen, so that portion was not made aesthetically pleasing).

    Only 2 people came out to speak against the demo: the president of Preservation Wayne and activist Francis Grunow.

    The question at hand was: will the demolition of the theater portion of the building negatively impact the surrounding designated historic districts in that part of downtown - The commission agreed that it would negatively impact that area.
    Apparently the developer rep didn't see the article in the dailies that HUD had no objection to keeping the theatre portion. Or maybe he assumed that the Historic Commission didn't read that article?

    Also, the removal of the Tuller didn't have much of an impact on the view of the United Artists theatre... just another excuse to tear it down. The UA theatre can only be seen from the vast Ilitch parking lots behind the UA complex. Does that somehow detract from the "Ilitch parking experience"??

    http://www.detroiturbex.com/content/...uat/index.html

    The United Artists Theatre is made of red brick. Nothing a power wash can't improve... or paint the damn thing. Ya want to talk about unsightly... go look at the Fine Arts Facade suspended with a steel framework for 10 years.

    I'm not buying these lame excuses for why it should be torn down....

  14. #564

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    Regarding the UA theater renovation, what possible successful business model exists for spending at least $25 million plus whatever endowment would be needed for an operating budget? Only an unprecedented gift from a wealthy benefactor could ever make the numbers work. It could never work as a for-profit venture. Folks shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the theater's value or merit derives solely from it's interior (80% lost at this point) and it's potential programming. It has no exterior architectural distinction.

    Getting the lights back on in the UA building is much more important to the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit. An infill project for the rest of the UA block (a huge surface parking lot blighting Grand Circus Park) is more important to the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit. It would be very bad if saving the theater blocked either of these things from happening. Of course it's "possible" to renovate the theater. But it's not feasible. The theater footprint can assist in making other projects on the block feasible though.

  15. #565

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    Regarding the UA theater renovation, what possible successful business model exists for spending at least $25 million plus whatever endowment would be needed for an operating budget? Only an unprecedented gift from a wealthy benefactor could ever make the numbers work. It could never work as a for-profit venture. Folks shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the theater's value or merit derives solely from it's interior (80% lost at this point) and it's potential programming. It has no exterior architectural distinction.

    Getting the lights back on in the UA building is much more important to the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit. An infill project for the rest of the UA block (a huge surface parking lot blighting Grand Circus Park) is more important to the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit. It would be very bad if saving the theater blocked either of these things from happening. Of course it's "possible" to renovate the theater. But it's not feasible. The theater footprint can assist in making other projects on the block feasible though.
    There is no plan for an infill project and will the Illitch family owning the lot, there is essentially no hope for one. If an infill project was planned for the rest of the block, I'm sure some people would be ok with it.

  16. #566

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    Considering part of the plan for the theater site is a “memorial pocket park”, I highly doubt they plan on developing the parking lot any time in the near future

  17. #567

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    Quote Originally Posted by JK313 View Post
    Considering part of the plan for the theater site is a “memorial pocket park”, I highly doubt they plan on developing the parking lot any time in the near future
    Nothing says "quality urban design" like a pocket park located in a parking lot surrounded by 150 cars.

  18. #568

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    Regarding the UA theater renovation, what possible successful business model exists for spending at least $25 million plus whatever endowment would be needed for an operating budget? Only an unprecedented gift from a wealthy benefactor could ever make the numbers work. It could never work as a for-profit venture. Folks shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the theater's value or merit derives solely from it's interior (80% lost at this point) and it's potential programming. It has no exterior architectural distinction.

    Getting the lights back on in the UA building is much more important to the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit. An infill project for the rest of the UA block (a huge surface parking lot blighting Grand Circus Park) is more important to the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit. It would be very bad if saving the theater blocked either of these things from happening. Of course it's "possible" to renovate the theater. But it's not feasible. The theater footprint can assist in making other projects on the block feasible though.
    I don't think that anyone is suggesting that an immediate plan for the UA theatre has to be done. The facade of the building where the vestibule and lobby of the theatre is was going to be sealed up anyway... for future development. If the auditorium portion of the building is razed, it will just be another addition to the sea of parking beyond that. Is more parking really preferable to a sealed building that is mainly out of sight?

    You are correct in that it will require someone with deep pockets to develop the theatre space (plus there's always the revenue from naming rights). Right now there is no current need. But who knows if in a few years that might change. The theatre footprint would not be a hindrance to the redevelopment of the rest of the block as can be seen here...

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/15...!4d-83.0530437

    Unlike the Fox Theatre, which has every nook and cranny filled with ornate plaster, the UA has large portions filled with flat wall surfaces that were painted to look like medieval ashlar blocks of stone. Most of the ornate plasterwork survives, and although large portions of that have some damage, once a plaster mold is taken (or gotten from its' near twin in LA), reuse of the plaster mold for repetitive surfaces is not as costly as one would think. And as for the resources for future restoration of the interior, there are several restoration companies nationwide (such as Conrad Schmitt Studios) that specialize in this type of work.

    If they powerwashed the auditorium exterior (it already has a new roof), then it could be mothballed (like so much of District Detroits surviving buildings are already). It doesn't look unsightly because both the Michigan Bldg. and the UA Building tower block most of the theatre portion anyway. And cleaned up, the exterior would look just like it did for over 50 years as a working theatre.

    Once this space is gone... then there will never be another chance to "grow" the entertainment district. Once it turns into a parking lot... it will be that way for a very long time...

  19. #569

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    I don't think that anyone is suggesting that an immediate plan for the UA theatre has to be done. The facade of the building where the vestibule and lobby of the theatre is was going to be sealed up anyway... for future development. If the auditorium portion of the building is razed, it will just be another addition to the sea of parking beyond that. Is more parking really preferable to a sealed building that is mainly out of sight?

    You are correct in that it will require someone with deep pockets to develop the theatre space (plus there's always the revenue from naming rights). Right now there is no current need. But who knows if in a few years that might change. The theatre footprint would not be a hindrance to the redevelopment of the rest of the block as can be seen here...

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/15...!4d-83.0530437

    Unlike the Fox Theatre, which has every nook and cranny filled with ornate plaster, the UA has large portions filled with flat wall surfaces that were painted to look like medieval ashlar blocks of stone. Most of the ornate plasterwork survives, and although large portions of that have some damage, once a plaster mold is taken (or gotten from its' near twin in LA), reuse of the plaster mold for repetitive surfaces is not as costly as one would think. And as for the resources for future restoration of the interior, there are several restoration companies nationwide (such as Conrad Schmitt Studios) that specialize in this type of work.

    If they powerwashed the auditorium exterior (it already has a new roof), then it could be mothballed (like so much of District Detroits surviving buildings are already). It doesn't look unsightly because both the Michigan Bldg. and the UA Building tower block most of the theatre portion anyway. And cleaned up, the exterior would look just like it did for over 50 years as a working theatre.

    Once this space is gone... then there will never be another chance to "grow" the entertainment district. Once it turns into a parking lot... it will be that way for a very long time...
    Further, moth balling the existing theatre does not preclude the redevelopment of the UA building itself. The concept that the theatre must be torn down is nothing but an Illitch myth.

    There may be a day where the conversation must be had whether to tear down the theatre because a business case doesn’t exist for its redevelopment. But if that conversation is to be had, there needs to be a serious and beneficial project that will be taking its place... not more parking. For the time being, a mothballed theatre is better use of the land than more parking. That should be without question. And until such time that a better use of the land can be contractually guaranteed, there should be no conversation about tearing down a historic theatre.

  20. #570

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atticus View Post
    Further, moth balling the existing theatre does not preclude the redevelopment of the UA building itself. The concept that the theatre must be torn down is nothing but an Illitch myth.

    There may be a day where the conversation must be had whether to tear down the theatre because a business case doesn’t exist for its redevelopment. But if that conversation is to be had, there needs to be a serious and beneficial project that will be taking its place... not more parking. For the time being, a mothballed theatre is better use of the land than more parking. That should be without question. And until such time that a better use of the land can be contractually guaranteed, there should be no conversation about tearing down a historic theatre.
    Amen... and the theatre auditorium already has a new roof, that the Ilitches belatedly added about 7 years ago. Had they done so 22 years ago when they first bought the building, then we wouldn't even be having this discussion about should it be torn down due to its' current state.

    Just another example of the Ilitches "demolition by neglect"... for more parking...

  21. #571

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    The Ilitch family has a long history and shown and proven on several occasion how they feel and what their intent is for this building and several in this area. Just look across grand circus park at the Adams/fine arts facade, the Madison building and several others.
    If I'm not mistaken , they promised to build behind the facade decades ago. And we all can go on and on about their poor tack record regarding their "promises".
    They should not be granted the right to demo the auditorium. take a walk behind the Fox , that'll give you a good idea what they intend to do.

  22. #572

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    I believe the Ilitches also said they wanted to add a hotel to the district Detroit. Why not do what they've done in LA with their UA theater and convert the tower portions into hotel rooms and repair the theater for shows like they are doing in the FOX , WIN, WIN ?
    https://www.acehotel.com/losangeles/...tre-ace-hotel/
    Last edited by Detroitdave; November-20-19 at 05:13 PM.

  23. #573

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    A more recent report I found about the condition of the theater wing of the United Artists Building.

    https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitm...20Material.pdf

  24. #574

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    Quote Originally Posted by JK313 View Post
    A more recent report I found about the condition of the theater wing of the United Artists Building.

    https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitm...20Material.pdf



    Kinda looks like (from the report) that Ilitch could have saved it, and now it's beyond repair. Deja Vu...

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