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  1. #1

    Default Detroit Aerial 1997 or How I Learned to Stop Urbaning and Love the Parking Lot

    Metro Times published a YouTube link and their commentary on this absolutely fabulous video of aeriel of downtown in 1997. Quite incredible and all I see is a ocean of parking lots. Also neat to see the buildings that stood where Ford Field and Comerica Park are now and the Donovan Building. Tiger Stadium, MCS, and Rouge Plant (?) at the end.

    http://www.metrotimes.com/Blogs/arch...roit-from-1997

    Question: What building was at the corner of Elizabeth and Witherell?
    Last edited by dtowncitylover; February-27-15 at 11:32 AM.

  2. #2

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    I don't have the patience to watch. Are you thinking of the Y.M.C.A. building?

  3. #3

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    Some thoughts from someone who was in middle school and living in Grand Rapids back then:

    -I didn’t realize the DAC’s parking garage pre-dated Comerica Park.

    -What used to be where the Opera House garage is now?

    -I know that some are upset about the buildings we lost for Comerica/Ford Field, but that area looks very dead to me. Given that the YMCA/YWCA were replaced by a very nice facility that replaced a parking lot on Broadway, and the Gem and Elwood were moved, I really think the Wolverine Hotel was the only real loss. (Of course, that’s a maddening one, because it wasn’t actually in the footprint of the ballpark).

    -West Foxtown doesn’t look much more full with buildings than it is today. For some reason I thought much of it was cleared when Comerica was built for parking/”future hockey arena.”

    -My god the area around DTE used to be depressing. I know their weird garden things aren’t very urban, but they’re better than parking lots. And didn’t there used to be a cool neighborhood west of there where the MGM Grand is? I can’t really see it. Was it already gone in 1997?

    -Campus Martius today is much better than the Kerns block/Kennedy Square/confusing intersection that was there back then.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    I don't have the patience to watch. Are you thinking of the Y.M.C.A. building?
    I thought that was where the corner entrance of Comerica Park is now, facing Witherell and Adams. This is right across the street. This building was right across the street.

    Khorasaurus said it, it's the Wolverine Hotel.

  5. #5

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    A couple of things to take away from that video:

    1) It was difficult to orient myself without Ford Field and Comerica Park in the picture at first

    2) Hudson's was freaking HUGE

    3) Campus Martius was 1000% more depressing and horrific in 97'

    4) Pretty evident the Wolverine didn't need to come down for Comerica Parking lots. What a waste.

    5) There were, and still are, a shit ton of parking lots in this city. It's almost unreal to comprehend unless looking from overhead.

    6) Thank God for camera stabilizers and HDTV being invented and implemented for widespread use. Watching that was almost unbarable.

  6. #6

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    I pleaded with the videographer to show St. Antoine and E. Elizabeth (564 E. Elizabeth, in particular), but he couldn't hear me some 18 years on...

    http://www.detroityes.com/mb/showthread.php?11912-180-E-Elizabeth-in-the-1880-s

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeg19 View Post
    4) Pretty evident the Wolverine didn't need to come down for Comerica Parking lots. What a waste.
    It didn't need to only if it was going to be redeveloped, otherwise it made no sense to have a vacant hotel next to a new stadium. I mentioned this in another thread, but Detroit had numerous vacant hotels at the time. A parking lot is not much better, but the space is there for future development. It has taken almost two decades to get to the current economic climate, where redevelopment of old buildings is really picking up.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeg19 View Post
    2) Hudson's was freaking HUGE
    Was there ever any plans to renovate it?

    But Baron, whose company redeveloped the Cupples Station area of St. Louis and was part of a group that tired to redevelop Hudson's in Coleman Young's administration, said Detroit's leaders should reconsider the store's future."They should let it play out some more. Detroit has enough ability to get the private sector involved," Baron said.
    Other developers said they'd be eager to redevelop the building.
    David Tryba, whose company paired with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a $100-million development of a dilapidated section of Denver, believes the building could be useful.
    "It's a tremendous opportunity," Tryba said. "It has features that you can't put a price on " Added New Orleans-based developer Pres Kabacoff, president of Historic Restoration.
    "We see it as having important historic significance and located in an area that would connect the financial district with the entertainment district."
    The building could serve a number of uses and help relieve the shortage of residential and office space downtown, developers said.
    The group suing to save the old department store cites a recent study by the Greater Detroit Partnership, a quasi-governmental body of business leaders and politicians, that shows a need for more than 12,000 residential lofts in downtown Detroit.
    Developers said the Hudson's built-in features – including 2.2-million square feet in 28 stories – make it attractive for upscale lofts. The ceilings are 13 feet high, with molded plaster; many floors are marble; and there are huge windows overlooking the city.
    There has been a demand for similar living quarters in other major cities.
    "The demand is really across the board," Tryba said. "You have a lot of empty nesters moving back to the city. These are higher, upscale developments, where people want the urban feel and the sense of style for a turn-of-the century building."
    This was the only thing I could find.

  9. #9

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    We've done a lot of things right (Ford Field, Compuware, Campus Martius, streetscaping, a little bit of infill near stadiums) and a lot of things wrong (2 unwarranted demolitions near CoPa, too many demos to list behind the Fox, Lafayette Building, Hudson's Building).... this is great for taking account. I still like the slate on which we are building-- it still beats many downtowns-- but it's good to identify our missteps.

  10. #10

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    The parking situation in that corner of the city, 1952:

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    I can understand the desire to develop parking under GCP.

  11. #11

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    Better, but I must say, even then we had a lot of downtown surface parking. Interesting how some blocks are basically historically parking, like the lot across from district court on Adams, and the lot behind what is now the Hilton on Brush.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    The parking situation in that corner of the city, 1952:

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    I can understand the desire to develop parking under GCP.
    What happened? For example, was there anything next to the GVSU Detroit Center building?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtowncitylover View Post
    What happened? For example, was there anything next to the GVSU Detroit Center building?
    I remember on this forum someone found a picture from like the 1920s that showed that as parking. If I'm remembering correctly, that means that lot has been parking for close to 100 years.

    Some of the "arena district" articles have mentioned Ilitch wanting to put an apartment building on that site with stands on the roof, like at Wrigley Field. We'll see if that comes to fruition.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khorasaurus View Post
    I remember on this forum someone found a picture from like the 1920s that showed that as parking. If I'm remembering correctly, that means that lot has been parking for close to 100 years.
    There was a large house there in the 1890s, back when Grand Circus was mostly residential. But ever since that was torn down, it seems to have been used for parking cars. The 1921 Sanborn shows it as "auto parking", and thus it has remained.

  15. #15

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    It would be like me riding on bulldozer clearing away rubble with holding my cowboy hat saying "HEE HAW! WOO HOO HOO!"

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khorasaurus View Post
    I remember on this forum someone found a picture from like the 1920s that showed that as parking. If I'm remembering correctly, that means that lot has been parking for close to 100 years.
    There was a large house there in the 1890s, back when the Grand Circus area was mostly residential. But ever since that was torn down, it seems to have been used for parking cars. The 1921 Sanborn map shows it as "auto parking", and thus it has remained.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khorasaurus View Post
    Some of the "arena district" articles have mentioned Ilitch wanting to put an apartment building on that site with stands on the roof, like at Wrigley Field. We'll see if that comes to fruition.
    Mlive had an article with photos and renders from that. It's being called "Wildcat Corner" http://www.mlive.com/business/detroi...at_corner.html

    I'm skeptical about a lot of major development in the city, but things have been looking up recently and Ilitch has plenty to benefit from this coming to fruition. The announcement of the Little Caesars HQ, gives me hope that there will also be new development across the street.
    Last edited by davep; February-27-15 at 09:01 PM.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khorasaurus View Post
    What used to be where the Opera House garage is now?
    A small office building facing Broadway, and parking lots.
    Last edited by EastsideAl; February-28-15 at 11:08 AM.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by davep View Post
    It didn't need to only if it was going to be redeveloped, otherwise it made no sense to have a vacant hotel next to a new stadium. I mentioned this in another thread, but Detroit had numerous vacant hotels at the time. A parking lot is not much better, but the space is there for future development. It has taken almost two decades to get to the current economic climate, where redevelopment of old buildings is really picking up.
    Agreed. The only way the Wolverine was going to be saved is if someone came in and redeveloped it, and the chance of that happening back then was slim. The city put out RFP's for the Kales, Starlet, and Lafayette back in 98 and the Kales was the only one to get a proposal. I also don't think it's fair to compare the Park and Eddystone situation to the Wolverine, because the climate is so much different.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by davep View Post
    Mlive had an article with photos and renders from that. It's being called "Wildcat Corner" http://www.mlive.com/business/detroi...at_corner.html
    Hopefully they'll be built a little bit more sturdy than some of the "wildcat bleachers" we've had in Detroit in the past...

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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khorasaurus View Post
    Some thoughts from someone who was in middle school and living in Grand Rapids back then:

    -I didn’t realize the DAC’s parking garage pre-dated Comerica Park.

    -What used to be where the Opera House garage is now?

    -I know that some are upset about the buildings we lost for Comerica/Ford Field, but that area looks very dead to me. Given that the YMCA/YWCA were replaced by a very nice facility that replaced a parking lot on Broadway, and the Gem and Elwood were moved, I really think the Wolverine Hotel was the only real loss. (Of course, that’s a maddening one, because it wasn’t actually in the footprint of the ballpark).

    -West Foxtown doesn’t look much more full with buildings than it is today. For some reason I thought much of it was cleared when Comerica was built for parking/”future hockey arena.”

    -My god the area around DTE used to be depressing. I know their weird garden things aren’t very urban, but they’re better than parking lots. And didn’t there used to be a cool neighborhood west of there where the MGM Grand is? I can’t really see it. Was it already gone in 1997?

    -Campus Martius today is much better than the Kerns block/Kennedy Square/confusing intersection that was there back then.
    -The DAC added a few floors to the garage after Comerica Park opened, but it was there for quite some time before that. I'm not sure exactly when the garage, but it was prior to 1994.

    -The new Opera House garage replaced an old parking garage that was built in the '50s or '60s.

    -The neighborhood west of DTE that you are thinking of was on Plum Street. It was a Hippie hotspot (for lack of a better term) in the mid-late '60s. It boomed and busted pretty quickly, and was demolished in the 1970s.

  22. #22

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    Speaking of the DAC garage.. It bugs me that the rear of the garage on Adams looks like, well, a parking garage while the front (entrance) has a facade. Every time I watch a Tiger home game those slabs of cement parking structure stand out over the left field wall and bug the shit out of me.

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  23. #23

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    i am too young to have memories of hudson's, outside of the demolition, but it is remarkable how it dominated the woodward streetscape. it dwarfed everything. i know it was a loved and revered building, but did anyone ever think that it was out of place downtown?

    i would take it back in a heartbeat, but i cant help but hope that whatever gets built on the block in the future is more in scale with the surrounding buildings.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by southen View Post
    i know it was a loved and revered building, but did anyone ever think that it was out of place downtown?
    For downtown at the time? No.

    It was the 2nd largest store in the world (in both volume and size) only smaller than Macy's.

    The same applies to the Fox Theatre and Radio City Theatre (Fox Theatre is the 2nd largest in the country behind Radio City Theatre).

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by southen View Post
    but did anyone ever think that it was out of place downtown?
    And remember that building wasn't one building, it was a collection of interwoven buildings built from the 1920 to the 1940s as Hudson's expanded. There was even an alleyway people would have to cross to get from one building/department to the next.

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