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  1. #51

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    The south side of Monroe was once the city's entertainment district, starting with the heyday of vaudeville and burlesque around the turn of the 20th century. The city's first movie theater was opened in 1905 on the first block between Campus Martius and Farmer, and many nickelodeons and larger movie theaters popped up in the 2 long blocks from Woodward to Randolph during the silent era. The National Theater is the last remnant of that era.

    After the city's entertainment and movie center began moving north to the Grand Circus area, the Civil War-era buildings on Monroe remained active as a sort of down-market commercial street into the mid-1970s. The city then took them over and emptied all the stores in preparation for demolition to clear the block for the proposed Cadillac Center mall (hence the name of the nearby People Mover station) that was going to cover that block and the old Kern block where Compuware now sits. The Cadillac Square (Real Estate Exchange) Building and the Gregory, Mayer & Thom Building pictured in 1953's post above were torn down at that time, along with all of the other buildings on the block (including the original Checker Bar, a couple of remaining gay bars, downtown's last pool hall, and the conveniently burned-out Family (Follies) Theater at the Cadillac Sq. corner) except for Cadillac Tower and the Monroe frontage.

    A years-long battle between historic preservationists and a very angry Coleman Young administration then ensued over the Monroe buildings. The preservationists had been able to get the state to declare it a state historic site, get it onto the National Registry, and to get a court order to halt any demolition. The city then boarded over all the storefronts, painted it with signs that read "Monroe Block Historic Restoration", and left it all sitting there decaying for over 10 years.

    Finally in 1990, when few people were paying attention anymore and with almost no notice, the Young administration declared the buildings unsafe and quickly sent the bulldozers in to take all that old stuff down.

    Here is a good Wikipedia page about the buildings:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monroe...cial_Buildings

    Here are a couple of pictures of the block near the end, in 1989:




    Last edited by EastsideAl; December-01-16 at 02:15 PM.

  2. #52

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    Ahhhhh now it makes I see ! they look similar ! Thank you for that !

    Quote Originally Posted by southen View Post
    Here is a photo to show what im talking about.

    Attachment 32190

  3. #53

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    Ahhh Good old Coleman Young , can't see his noise despite his face. LOL
    Could you imagine if he got his way and they built that mall ?
    it would be closed just like Northland. Thank goodness that didn't happen.
    I guess father time stops for no one. Kinda sad to see what replaced all those buildings , nothing but parking lots :-(

    Quote Originally Posted by EastsideAl View Post
    The south side of Monroe was once the city's entertainment district, starting with the heyday of vaudeville and burlesque around the turn of the 20th century. The city's first movie theater was opened in 1905 on the first block between Campus Martius and Farmer, and many nickelodeons and larger movie theaters popped up in the 2 long blocks from Woodward to Randolph during the silent era. The National Theater is the last remnant of that era.

    After the city's entertainment and movie center began moving north to the Grand Circus area, the Civil War-era buildings on Monroe remained active as a sort of down-market commercial street into the mid-1970s. The city then took them over and emptied all the stores in preparation for demolition to clear the block for the proposed Cadillac Center mall (hence the name of the nearby People Mover station) that was going to cover that block and the old Kern block where Compuware now sits. The Cadillac Square (Real Estate Exchange) Building and the Gregory, Mayer & Thom Building pictured in 1953's post above were torn down at that time, along with all of the other buildings on the block (including the original Checker Bar, a couple of remaining gay bars, downtown's last pool hall, and the conveniently burned-out Family (Follies) Theater at the Cadillac Sq. corner) except for Cadillac Tower and the Monroe frontage.

    A years-long battle between historic preservationists and a very angry Coleman Young administration then ensued over the Monroe buildings. The preservationists had been able to get the state to declare it a state historic site, get it onto the National Registry, and to get a court order to halt any demolition. The city then boarded over all the storefronts, painted it with signs that read "Monroe Block Historic Restoration", and left it all sitting there decaying for over 10 years.

    Finally in 1990, when few people were paying attention anymore and with almost no notice, the Young administration declared the buildings unsafe and quickly sent the bulldozers in to take all that old stuff down.

    Here is a good Wikipedia page about the buildings:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monroe...cial_Buildings

    Here are a couple of pictures of the block near the end, in 1989:




    Last edited by Detroitdave; December-02-16 at 08:50 AM.

  4. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by ndavies View Post
    This is nothing new. I lived downtown for over 10 years and commuted out to Auburn Hills. Many people near me did the same thing due to the lack of good jobs downtown.
    Indeed.

    The majority of good-paying jobs have been out in the suburbs since the 1980s (Ford, Chrysler, The Warren Tech Center, GM Pontiac, Auto Suppliers, etc.).

    That said, I have noticed a positive trend in the last 5 years. The traffic in and out of downtown during rush hour is getting progressively worse, which goes to show the sheer number of jobs that have been migrating from the suburbs to downtown.

  5. #55

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    Never knew the history of this block. Thank you so much for this. What a loss. Wow.

  6. #56

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    This is a vast improvement over the scrapped Meridian development. That was an awful use of the space, especially since it did not provide a proper street wall. However, the proposed public space behind the buildings is over-kill of place-making. Any residents that live in that area should consider Campus Martius Park and Cadillac Square Park their backyards. Why duplicate another public space so close to the main place-making locales?

    Also, what's this mid-rise and low-rise crap all about? The development should be a symmetrical building in that the residential development along Monroe should be the same height. Personally, I would prefer that this entire development be residential. However, if there must be an office tower, it should be either next to the Cadillac Square Building or located at the corner of Monroe and Farmer. I don't know why Dan Gilbert is so obsessed with putting an office tower in that location. Wouldn't the Hudson's site be ideal for office space that is needed? Residential and ground floor retail is what should go along Monroe/Cadillac Square, period. That's my two cents.
    Last edited by royce; December-02-16 at 03:44 AM.

  7. #57
    Calltoaction Guest

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    Coleman Young was a fuckhead, I think we can all say that Detroit is much better with him dead and gone. Let him be hated and vilified in history.

  8. #58

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    Hear! Hear!

    *Though his defenders will tell you his first two terms weren't so bad.

  9. #59

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    I used to work in 1001 with a window facing CM. Around that time I always heard people refer to the Hudson's site as "the biggest hole in downtown". This always lead me to think the Monroe block was kind of overlooked and wouldn't see any development until at least after the infamous Hudson's site. This is great news though! I have high hopes that this will be done right and the building will have a well thought out mix of retail, office, and residential space.

  10. #60

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    I've been in the National Theatre back in 2000 when Preservation Wayne (now Preservation Detroit) cleaned out many tons of fallen plasterwork on the interior. It is in very bad condition.

    The earlier post showing the saving of just the facade of the National, is an acceptable alternative if nothing can be done with the interior.... HOWEVER....

    .... the entire facade should be saved... they could use the window opening as a smaller size gateway arch.

    The reason saving more than just the outer arch (within the rosettes) is obvious.... the entire exterior of the National Theatre facade and towers is made of Pewabic tile... namely white and blue terra cotta.... To whack off the inner part of the arch would be a travesty.

    https://sites.google.com/site/tilein...tional-theater
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  11. #61

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    Also the small entrance lobby of the National Theatre is decorated in tan colored Pewabic tile, which can be seen among the first photos here. This is probably the best site for how the interior of the National Theatre looks today....

    http://detroit-ish.com/photos/national-theatre/
    Last edited by Gistok; December-03-16 at 10:43 PM.

  12. #62

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    Can't understand why that front window of the National Theater has remained open for several years. Rain, snow, and bird-droppings don't add to the decay of the building?
    IMHO, the National Theater has been neglected by the city on purpose. Now, Dan Gilbert comes along and basically wants to tear it down. "No problem," says the City.

    The National Theater deserves to be saved. A small concert venue like St. Andrew's Hall could be the way to go. An archway to what, sucks?

  13. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by royce View Post
    Can't understand why that front window of the National Theater has remained open for several years. Rain, snow, and bird-droppings don't add to the decay of the building?
    IMHO, the National Theater has been neglected by the city on purpose.
    Ding, ding, ding!

    I knew someone who was involved in he DIA's performing arts wing who, once it was owned by the city, badly wanted to gain use of the National Theater for putting on smaller musicals (smaller than the big roadshows that the Fisher booked) and operas. The National, as a former vaudeville and burlesque house, was much better suited to this than the DIA's own theater.

    Despite having private donors lined up to help pay for it, and professional theater people interested in running it, the city administration stood in his way at every turn. They also refused to keep the structure heated, pretty much ensuring that the plumbing and the plaster would be trashed, and refused to allow the roof to be inspected, pretty much ensuring that water would leak in and wreck most of the rest of it. After a few months they pulled the permission for further visits to the theater, and that spelled the end of that project.

    Demolished by neglect (who remembers that?) was the Detroit way of 'urban renewal' back then under the Young administration. It just served to add immensely to our problems and the empty lifelessness of the city, and destroyed so much (like most of Brush Park) that we would now dearly love to have back.

  14. #64
    Calltoaction Guest

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    ^^^ Everyday should be a party now that Coleman Young is dead.

  15. #65

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    We have renderings and a plan for the block!

    http://www.freep.com/story/money/bus...ils/579777001/

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  16. #66
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,501

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    This project is 800M? Wow.

    So a billion (nearly) here, a billion there (Hudsons) and another billion there (fail-jail), and as they say in the federal government, pretty soon you are talking real money.

    All of this is stunning for a city which was on the ropes not that long ago.
    Last edited by emu steve; August-21-17 at 04:09 AM.

  17. #67

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    Very nice. I hope it happens. I love the thought of new residential and retail space coming to the area. Like that some of the parking would be underground. As much as possible, please. And the variety of new outdoor/green spaces -- both public and private.

    I do wish they'd preserve and restore the entire National Theater though, not just the facade. With the talk of Aretha still wanting to open a club wouldn't it be great if those stars could align?

    And I hope they design those sloped roofs with Detroit snow, ice, and wind in mind. I'm reminded of the problems they have of snow and ice falling from the similarly sloped roof of the Bank of America building in NYC. It's a great benefit to be able to learn from other people's mistakes.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/ice-f...ilding-2013-12

    I'm not sure exactly what goes on up there, but you can see an image of the Bank of America building in NYC and its similarly sloped roof here.
    Last edited by bust; August-21-17 at 05:16 AM.

  18. #68

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    The plans I have seen for the Monroe block do not include the preservation of the National Theater.

    Also, the two historic buildings on Bates St and Farmer would be demoed as well.

  19. #69

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    I want every historic building saved all the time, but the shear volume of new development in this project will make me turn my head just this once.

    1953

  20. #70

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    *Proceeds to do a jig*

    Gonna call it now. This will be no less than 500ft. What's the last 500ft + tower built in Detroit?

    Next up, Lafayette Block!!!

  21. #71

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    Drool....very exciting!

  22. #72

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    I truly hope they at least save the facade of the National Theatre. Great idea putting Aretha's club there, it would be the perfect size.

  23. #73

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    I've heard variously that Aretha is not a reputable business person -- so, skipper's rule on her "retirement club."

  24. #74

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    Here is a screen grab from the video in the Freep article. It is amazing how much more dense downtown is going to be/feel with this and Hudsons.

    Going vertical is fun. We should have done this years ago..

  25. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by southen View Post
    Name:  Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 11.27.42 AM.jpg
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    Here is a screen grab from the video in the Freep article. It is amazing how much more dense downtown is going to be/feel with this and Hudsons.

    Going vertical is fun. We should have done this years ago..
    Like every other major / mid-size city.

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