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  1. #1

    Default Top of the Renaissance Center?

    I did a quick search but didn't turn up anything.
    I know that the restaurant has been closed for some time and it doesn't look like another has moved in as of now.

    But, it is possible to still get up to the observation deck? Is the bar still operating there? Family is in town for the holiday, they've never been here before and I was hoping that this would be a great place to go.

  2. #2

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    As far as I know, no. There is no access what so ever.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeg19 View Post
    As far as I know, no. There is no access what so ever.
    If you find out, let us know.

    I would like to think that the Marriott in the Ren Cen would have something. But at the same time, I have noticed that many upmarket hotels seem to neglect their restaurant and bar. Maybe it costs a lot more to staff/service those areas than a hotel bedroom does.

  4. #4

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    That area was a rented space. Last I heard they were in talks with another company to fill the space, but I don't remember the details.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by night-timer View Post
    If you find out, let us know.


    I would like to think that the Marriott in the Ren Cen would have something. But at the same time, I have noticed that many upmarket hotels seem to neglect their restaurant and bar. Maybe it costs a lot more to staff/service those areas than a hotel bedroom does.

    Quote Originally Posted by gencinjay View Post
    That area was a rented space. Last I heard they were in talks with another company to fill the space, but I don't remember the details.

    There a handful of exceptions, but hotel restaurants & bars are extremely difficult to operate profitably (although Room Service can make money if marketed wisely). As such, they are generally a drag on the bottom line of the Rooms Division. In the old days of hospitality, profit margins were not as closely scrutinized and Wall Street was not demanding ever-increasing share value from the mega-chains that these hotel corporations have become.

    Back then, hotel & motel owners believed food & beverage was an element of service that should be provided on property--regardless of whether it was a profit center or not.


    In today's environment, many hoteliers are attempting to lease out the F&B in order to continue to provide inhouse service for the guests--but not shoulder the loss (this is likely what is happening at RenCen). Problem with this approach is that--if the hotel can't operate F&B profitably--why would any outside operator even want to take on the risk of this "business opportunity"?


    A common tack is to attempt to run the place cheaply. Consequently, many of these independent operators are skinflint and/or inexperienced (restaurant & bar businesses have the highest rate of inexperienced entrepreneurs and highest failure rate), which ultimately delivers a lousy product and tarnishes the reputuation of the hotel.


    Ironically, Marriott was one of the corporations that used to pick up outsourced F&B for other hotel chains & independents.


    Sadly, that's the reason I personally don't have high hopes (no pun intended) for the top-floor at RenCen, but would like to be surprised.

  6. #6

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    Being a road warrior for 25 years, I had a very basic principle: Never eat in the hotel restaurant!

  7. #7

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    The Top floor was last the Coach Insignia run by the Epiucurean group. It did quite well for quite some time but it had its run. Hopefully something new will be there soon.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Onthe405 View Post
    Sadly, that's the reason I personally don't have high hopes (no pun intended) for the top-floor at RenCen, but would like to be surprised.
    The Coach Insignia space at the top of the Ren Cen is not part of the Marriott hotel. General Motors owns the space. After a solid run, Coach Insignia's lease expired and they did not renew.

    Top of Ren Cen is iconic space. It's not easy to run a restaurant there though. Not all of the kitchen facilities can fit in the restaurant space and instead are located on ground level. The explosion of dining options downtown in the past decade makes for a more challenging environment as well. It's going to take a skilled restauranteur to reopen that space and make money at it.

    The space has not included an observation area for over 20 years.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    The space has not included an observation area for over 20 years.
    Would it make more sense to design and open either the entire space or a large portion of it as an observation deck? It would be great to have one downtown. Maybe work with the Historical Museum and the city to create a neat space for school groups/tourists/convetioneers, etc.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtowncitylover View Post
    Would it make more sense to design and open either the entire space or a large portion of it as an observation deck? It would be great to have one downtown. Maybe work with the Historical Museum and the city to create a neat space for school groups/tourists/convetioneers, etc.
    Well I advocate for an observation deck, I don't think they are going to go for it with Gilbert's coming online in the next few years at the Hudson's site. It'd be a huge investment to turn that into an observation point, considering that most of the other ones (Willis Tower/Hancock Tower/Empire State/Freedom Tower/etc) all have attractions. It's not just a window that people look out of anymore. Probably something in the tens of millions to convert it to and run it. I just don't see someone doing that there.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeg19 View Post
    Well I advocate for an observation deck, I don't think they are going to go for it with Gilbert's coming online in the next few years at the Hudson's site. It'd be a huge investment to turn that into an observation point, considering that most of the other ones (Willis Tower/Hancock Tower/Empire State/Freedom Tower/etc) all have attractions. It's not just a window that people look out of anymore. Probably something in the tens of millions to convert it to and run it. I just don't see someone doing that there.
    Is the attraction at the SEARS Tower () the walk-out platform? The last time I was there was 12 years ago and it wasn't there yet but the crowds were still there. I don't remember another attraction except a gift shop and information about Chicago and her history.

    But yes, if to overhaul the space would mean muchos dollars then I understand.

  12. #12

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    A couple thoughts:

    How much revenue is that space currently generating for GM as an abandoned restaurant?

    The observation deck examples previously mentioned are in NYC & Chicago, which have at least 2 or more skyscrapers with public access to the uppermost floors. Naturally, there has to be some kind of razzle-dazzle identity aside from the view, since there is competition. That's not the case in Detroit.

    Hudson block is only an artist's rendering at this point, and the completed structure may not have public access to the top floors--particularly if GM/RenCen were to beat Gilbert to the punch.

    A unique twist would be expanding the observation deck to 2 levels and include a 360 view on the the roof (GE @ Rockefeller Center offers this, as did the original World Trade).

    Since GM owns the building, you'd think they could leverage the space into serving double-duty: the view + GM public relations/museum (along the lines of FoMoCo with The Henry Ford/GV--admittedly, not on that scale).

    The auto industry & Detroit are synonymous around the world, yet (IMO) it could still could use more industry-related appealing tourist attractions.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Onthe405 View Post
    A couple thoughts:

    How much revenue is that space currently generating for GM as an abandoned restaurant?

    The observation deck examples previously mentioned are in NYC & Chicago, which have at least 2 or more skyscrapers with public access to the uppermost floors. Naturally, there has to be some kind of razzle-dazzle identity aside from the view, since there is competition. That's not the case in Detroit.

    Hudson block is only an artist's rendering at this point, and the completed structure may not have public access to the top floors--particularly if GM/RenCen were to beat Gilbert to the punch.

    A unique twist would be expanding the observation deck to 2 levels and include a 360 view on the the roof (GE @ Rockefeller Center offers this, as did the original World Trade).

    Since GM owns the building, you'd think they could leverage the space into serving double-duty: the view + GM public relations/museum (along the lines of FoMoCo with The Henry Ford/GV--admittedly, not on that scale).

    The auto industry & Detroit are synonymous around the world, yet (IMO) it could still could use more industry-related appealing tourist attractions.
    I'll 2nd That Too. I've always felt the RenCen should had an Observation Deck long ago. I think they briefly had reopened the Coach Insignia space back up for a recent cancer walk/run event. It will definitely make the RenCen more tourist friendly. They are still fixing up the remains of GM Autoworld for a more open space/food court area.

  14. #14

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    At the top is expensive real estate,high end restruant/lounge bordering on private club,with a dining experience.

    Figure live piano or musical ensemble in the back ground,but then you have to figure $100 per person adverage ticket.

    Other then the occasional special night out of a couple dropping $200 for a meal,can the city support it?

    You could throw in an intimate setting with known vocals but then your looking at $350 for a memorable evening.

    Not shure if you will be seeing $5 hamburgers at the top of any highrise.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Other then the occasional special night out of a couple dropping $200 for a meal,can the city support it? You could throw in an intimate setting with known vocals but then your looking at $350 for a memorable evening.
    Full agreement. That's why I believe an observation would generate more interest to tourists (and locals) than a restaurant. If you read the Yelp! reviews for Coach Insignia, 90% of the patrons chose to dine there for the view, the food being secondary.

    When that view comes with a $150+ price tag, it eliminates a heck of a lot of potential visitors. Given cost of renovation, the limited number of tourists in downtown Detroit and the limited number of days that are favorable to the view (attendance at CN Tower, World Trade, Willis, et al fall off dramatically with rain, mist, and snow), it would probably be difficult to turn a profit for an outside operator.

    That's why I believe GM's investment would be the key. It may never be a cash cow for them, but it would provide better overall PR potential for the company than leasing out to a pricey restaurant.

  16. #16

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    bah. do something with it, GM. don't just let it gather dust.

  17. #17

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    GM still offers daily tours of the Ren Cen, not sure how busy they are. It must seem odd to visitors that they can't go to the top as part of the tour. It would be nice if GM could at least take the tour visitors up but then they would just see this big unused space. I'm sure they get a lot of questions on the tour.

  18. #18

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    You could do stacks with that top floor. Lease it to any business - of any kind - and collect the rent. It doesn't have to be a food-with-views place. Many businesses are looking to make an 'impression' with a prestigious location. Do something with it. Business leases are dis-similar to residential leases and tend to be long-term arrangements of three to five years.

    Examples: https://www.regus.com/workspace/unit...detroit-rencen and https://www.regus.com/workspace/unit...tes/mi/detroit
    Last edited by night-timer; December-13-17 at 07:16 PM.

  19. #19

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    Across Europe many of the publicly accessible observaction decks are used for tourism as well as business. For instance I have watched business deals going down amid the tourists at the top of the Main Tower in Frankfurt as well as the Olympiaturm in Munich.

    Many of the observation decks in Europe are accessible with quick access by self service cash machines then coffee shops or basic, cost reasonable tourist services at the top. The point being that tourists and small businesses looking to "wow" a client have affordable access to stunning vistas that show off the city while bringing in regular money for space that does not take a whole ton of money to maintain.

  20. #20

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    If the Coach Insignia space were to be used as an observation space, more elevator access would be needed. Coach Insignia had only one, perhaps two, small public elevators. That is OK for a high-end restaurant with people spending hours dining while the floor rotates (earlier incarnation), but not good for an environment with high volumes of people and a high turn-over rate. Adding elevators, and elevator shafts, would be expensive.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onthe405 View Post
    A couple thoughts:

    How much revenue is that space currently generating for GM as an abandoned restaurant?
    I wouldn't assume the Coach Insignia space was a money maker. It's incredibly expensive to operate a destination restaurant 70 floors up where the kitchen is 700 ft. away.

    If I had to guess, it would be more cost effective to just keep the space empty.

  22. #22

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    Need to think out of the box. Too bad Dan doesn't own it - world's tallest glow-in-the-dark miniature golf.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bham1982 View Post
    I wouldn't assume the Coach Insignia space was a money maker. It's incredibly expensive to operate a destination restaurant 70 floors up where the kitchen is 700 ft. away.

    If I had to guess, it would be more cost effective to just keep the space empty.
    Is the kitchen NOT up there? Down on ground level?

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by 401don View Post
    GM still offers daily tours of the Ren Cen
    I haven't taken one of the free RenCen tours in quite a while, but they always included a visit to the Coach Insignia space (the restaurant was closed during the day) to see Detroit from on high. You should check to see if they are still doing that.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by 48202 View Post
    If the Coach Insignia space were to be used as an observation space, more elevator access would be needed. Coach Insignia had only one, perhaps two, small public elevators. That is OK for a high-end restaurant with people spending hours dining while the floor rotates (earlier incarnation), but not good for an environment with high volumes of people and a high turn-over rate. Adding elevators, and elevator shafts, would be expensive.
    There are two glass elevators and two inside elevators serving the space. The interior elevators were only activated on busy nights. That provided sufficient capacity in the days of the Summit, when there was observation traffic and a rotating lounge - no longer there - on the 73rd floor, in addition to a restaurant.

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