Post Number: 285
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 11:03 am: || |
The "Big Lie" is something that is untrue but repeated and echo-chambered enough that it seems like the truth. Query whether "demolitionism" is an example.
The problem with DetroitYes is that the people who are best-positioned to rebut claims of "demolitionism" are not going to risk their jobs by divulging confidential planning or development information. But we can look at what has actually happened and score whether "the city" is into wanton demolition. And by "the city," we'll include the City, the DDA and DEGC.
The city’s net construction vs. demolition history in the Central Business District over the past 20 or so years has been quite positive, although from DY, you would never know it. In terms of deals done, brokered, or assisted by the city, DEGC and DDA just in the past 10 years or so,
1. Comerica Park, though it occasioned the demolition of the old YMCA, was built on acres and acres of vacant lots and buildings that were in irretrievable condition. The Gem, Century Club, and Elwood were moved to a vacant lot next to the DAC. That's just the construction piece - and does not include city's considerable financial involvement in lower Woodward preservation and cleanup; the city's role in getting Merchants Row and the other lofts going, and the $10mm the city is spending to stabilize and protect Harmonie Park. Over the last 20 or so years, there has also been very significant development over existing and long-vacant sites:
2. Ford Field was built from a warehouse that would have been demolished, as well as numerous dirt lots. The office building is 100% new development on a formerly barren corner of Madison and I-375.
3. Campus Martius Park, which is unquestionably successful, was built in the middle of Woodward.
4. One Kennedy Square (the E&Y building) was built on the site of Kennedy Square, which in turn was the demo site of the old City Hall. In the process, the underground parking garage was renovated.
5. Compuware went onto the Crowley and Kern blocks, sites that had been empty since demolition for decades.
6. The Boll Family YMCA went into what had been a gravel lot for decades.
7. The Book-Cadillac was saved, and a three-story expansion building was put onto what had been a parking lot since at least the early 1970s.
8. The Detroit Opera House saved the Capitol Theater from demolition.
9. The Madison Theater was partially demolished and replaced with Angelina’s.
10. The Greektown Casino went up without demolishing anything except a 1960s-era fire station.
11. The MGM Casino, which is a significant source of tax revenue and jobs, replaced a gigantic gravel lot and five pre-1900 buildings with a density of building and human occupancy thousands of times bigger than what was there. And quite a bit of effort went into saving the existing buildings.
12. The Rosa Parks Transit Center is going up over a “park,” a parking lot, and the site of one small 3-story commercial building.
1. The Millender Center replaced a massive gravel parking lot that had been across from the Renaissance Center for years. On the net, Detroit has added far more useful commercial and residential space to the CBD than it has destroyed. In fact, it now has more residents and workers than it has had for at least two decades. Residents and workers help generate demand, enough of which makes all things (including preservation) possible.
2. 150 West Jefferson (a high rise) replaced a ratty block of 2-story buildings along Jefferson.
3. One Detroit Center (another high rise) did the same thing on Woodward.
4. Riverfront Towers went up near JLA.
In terms of “parking,” the city and its agencies have recently built underground and into decks.
1. The Millennium Garage is tucked behind Cobo. It’s not visible. To my knowledge, DDA only owns one surface lot, at Broadway and Randolph. It has been a parking lot for decades. Nothing was demolished by anyone who is currently at the city, DDA or DEGC. Look at the age of the mural on the wall of the building to the south. And it’s not being hoarded.
2. The 1001 Woodward Garage replaced a vacant lot and (2) two-story buildings of no architectural value (they had been "renovated" in the 1970s). It now has functional retail in it.
3. The renovated Kennedy Square and Grand Circus garages are underground.
4. The Premier Garage is underground.
Of the high-profile sites that keep popping up on Detroit Yes as the city’s “fault,”
1. The Hudson’s block has been tied up under option to Quicken for quite some time. Ask Dan Gilbert why he hasn’t developed it. The Hudson’s building, by the way, was a nine-building project that was studied for 20 years. Suffice it to say that all of these projects are being pursued by people who know what they are doing.
2. The Statler could not be saved. It had a clay tension tile system floor that had been flooded out. It also has been under option to Quicken. It also has this decrepit property sitting in the middle of it…
3. The site of the Tuller, a Young-era demo, is owned by the Ilitches. There is no imminent domain anymore.
4. The Monroe Block was demolished in the late 1980s by the Young Administration. It had been a crumbling block of burlesque theaters since the 1960s. It has been the subject of a couple of serious proposals that have been derailed by the economy.
5. The Madison Lenox was, frankly, a blight in the condition it was in – and one that sat between the DAC, Music Hall, and the Opera House. It was thoroughly trashed, one of the two buildings and the connector were of no architecturally significance, and it would have come down no matter who owned it. To my knowledge, the Ilitches owned it well before any talk of demolition.
6. The Metropolitan Building has been under study for years - and has serious facade, contamination and ceiling height difficulties to overcome.
And when it’s time to talk about demolition, demolition by neglect, parking empires, and general blight generation (not described above), this has mostly been a private sector enterprise since the Depression – because the city overbuilt and couldn’t fill the space. The city does not have eminent domain. So talk to the Ilitches about the off-hockey-site properties, Higgins about the Broderick, Keffalinos about Capitol Park, the Millers about their acres of surface lots, and the mental hospital about the owners of the office building and hotel at Park and Adams. And don’t forget that the biggest blight in the CBD is a 7-acre parking lot at the corner of I-375 and Gratiot – priced never to sell.
If there is a place to fault the city and its agencies, it’s in thinking (like DY posters who have edifice complexes) that everything should be a huge project – rather than starting with realistic, block-covering, low-rise development (more) keyed to demand. The Lafayette site, for example, could be replaced with a 3-story building and still maintain the “street wall.” Sit in 24 Grille (or Esko if you are tough enough), and you’ll see it.
What really hinders Detroit’s CBD development is lack of money, lack of resources, and a general lack of market demand (historically but especially now). If half the effort devoted to attacking “the city” were devoted to business attraction or actually running successful, market-rate businesses here, things like the Lafayette Building demolition wouldn’t even be on the table. But the city has a limited number of people with a limited amount of money trying to mitigate the effects of a permanently-soft market.
I’m not in favor of demolishing the Lafayette Building – but the continual attacks on city government, the DDA and DEGC as “demolitionists” and advocates of parking lots are unwarranted. As are the constant claims that what is hindering development in Detroit is a “lack of vision,” a charge that is leveled any time someone suggests that something is beyond its economic life. I’ll be highly charitable and chalk up the unrelenting negativism to a lack of memory, a failure to investigate things, or visiting Detroit only through Google Maps.
(Message edited by Huggybear on March 28, 2009)
Post Number: 647
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 11:48 am: || |
Good point huggybear. I think Dennis Archers' administration was key in securing what we see today as far as the developement in the last 17 years. If this were 92' I think Detroit looked alot worse. I don't care what anybody says I would take todays downtown over that one any day, midtown included also. I do understand the need for keeping the history in tact, and I think all of the efforts have been done in many good ways. What I don't like is the fact that some can't see past the past. I think downtown has rebounded with the help of regional co-operation, city and suburb. The preservation Wayne has also help in a big way, but the die-hards mess that up with the onesided logic. There can be better uses for some historic buildings, but not all of them can be saved. I agree there has been more good than bad in Downtown Detroit.
Post Number: 1882
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 11:51 am: || |
Tell me how spending $1 million to actually clean the building up to improve its chances of redevelopment makes less sense than spending $5-$8 million to tear it down for a parking lot (or in the Statler's case, an overgrown, weed-filled lot in a city center)?
Post Number: 619
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 11:58 am: || |
If it was true that the Statler was built on a floor that was flooded out and could not be saved, then it would not make sense to spend the $1 million to clean up the building. Of course, that supposes that it truly was unsalvageable.
Post Number: 4651
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 12:34 pm: || |
If this were 92' I think Detroit looked alot worse. I don't care what anybody says I would take todays downtown over that one any day, midtown included also.
Downtown Detroit looks better than it did 17 years ago. Therefore, it's okay to stop trying.
Post Number: 227
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 12:52 pm: || |
The arguement stands that the DDA needs to make a better effort with mothballing structures that come under their command earlier on instead coming back later saying its rotten becasue it didn't get preserved and now its useless. This is very irresponible and counter-productive. They need to experiment and prove that by partially rehabbing a building so it looks presentable and protected from the elements that stil no developer would want it in a normal economy. This is called logical thinking, to guess, assume, or half-ass a few proposals is just plain lazy, and your job is way too difficult for you if you always default to the easy way out so you atleast look like your doing something.
Post Number: 441
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 2:20 pm: || |
The main problem is allowing the trashing, stripping, and demolition by the elements of unprotected buildings. These are buildings that are under either the city's care or the care of outrageously negligent landlords like Higgins and Moroun, whose properties would be cited and seized in most cities (but are not here due to their political influence). It is these factors of neglect, negligence, and preventable theft and destruction that more than anything else causes buildings to become "unsalvageable" or "too expensive to renovate."
The shame of leaving many large and historic buildings, like say Cass Tech, to sit open, decay, and be stripped and destroyed in plain sight, or the final destruction by neglect and negligence of once-beautiful structures like the Statler (leaving a weedy lot behind as a sign of the "progress" of tearing it down) cannot be explained away or excused by any amount of development elsewhere.
Post Number: 334
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 2:23 pm: || |
The most informative and constructive post I have read on this board in a year. Bravo to you.
Post Number: 442
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 2:25 pm: || |
And may I also say that to call this demolition by willful neglect a "big lie" is to insult the intelligence (to say nothing of the sense of sight) of the city's residents. We can all plainly see what has happened and what is going on, and what is and is not being done.
Post Number: 99
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 2:48 pm: || |
I have traveled to dozens of former industrial midwest cities and towns and have paid careful attention to how abandoned structures are secured. ALL of these cities have problems with vacant structures of historical value, but none of them exhibit the same kind of incompetence in keeping them secure.
"Huggybear" has created a well-crafted PR piece for George Jackson, but it amounts to little more than a pat on the back for what the city, DEGC and DDA are supposed to be doing as a matter of course. yes, the disgusting level of municipal corruption hasn't kept EVERY project from getting completed. Wow, congratulations. BRAVO. Meanwhile you the city and Jackson have FAILED to hold the feet of HIGGINS, MOROUN, KEFFALINOS, and the ILITCHES to the fire when (1) it comes to violations of ordinances (blight) AND (2) keeping their properties secure.
As Eastsidedeal points out, it's not the demolition-happy Jackson that's the real problem: it's the city's failure to address the problem of demolition by neglect that leads us down the inevitable path to demolition by wrecking ball.
Post Number: 3851
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 3:52 pm: || |
If this were 92' I think Detroit looked alot worse. I don't care what anybody says I would take todays downtown over that one any day, midtown included also.
Frankly, I'd take 1962's (or even 1972's) downtown over today's downtown.
But that's just me.
Post Number: 1117
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 4:54 pm: || |
Don't forget the Donovan (former Motown Headquarters - wouldn't you think it would have made an amazing music museum, sigh...) and the entire Chin Tiki block...
What about the Monroe block? Little Harry's? There's alot more.
Post Number: 604
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 5:01 pm: || |
Lets not forget the Opera House Garage which includes retail and office space replaced a ratty dark and dangerous 50's era garage which had no redeeming value.
Post Number: 579
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 5:25 pm: || |
It's not a conspiracy. It's a WTF mentality.
Post Number: 6274
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 6:03 pm: || |
I have to put in my 2 cents worth here... because some of you folks are mixing apples and oranges.... confusing PRIVATE investment in downtown Detroit (Dr. DiChiera/MOT, Chuck Forbes, etc.), and PUBLIC investment, where the city government (DDA, DEGC, etc.) is involved.
I would hardly call Chuck Forbes or Michigan Opera Theatre's investments in Detroit as something to give credit to the city or city agencies for.
In Huggybear's original list...
1) Way more than the YMCA was pounded to rubble for Comerica park... and I would hardly call the Baker School of Law, the YMCA, the YWCA and the Wolverine Hotel (the last 3 all tall towers) hardly beyond repair. They all came down for Comerica Park, although the reasoning for the Wolverine Hotel to come down was merely for paved parking spaces.
Also, the Gem/Century and Elwood Bar move were executed and paid for by Chuck Forbes. He took some of the money that the County Stadium Authority paid (Eminent Domain) for his buildings and land in the area, and paid for the move himself. I will give credit to then DEGC head C. Beth Duncombe (Archers sister-in-law) who found Forbes a city owned lot to move the buildings to. But without Forbes determination, these buildings would just have been pounded to rubble (the near fate of the Women's Exchange, which a lawsuit saved from ending up as a "decorative sidewalk").
8) Michigan Opera Theatre saved the old Capitol Theatre from a certain death. They did so by BUYING that building and the neighboring Roberts Furs Building and Arts Buildings from PRIVATE owners. They had little if any DDA/DEGC involvement. All funds were privately raised. Ditto for their parking structure. They bought the old decrepit one, ripped it down and built and paid for a new one themselves.
11. Of the existing pre-1900 buildings on the site of the new MGM Casino... I am aware of no attempt at saving the 1876 built Fiona's Tea House, a mid 19th century home that was razed. Ditto for the 6 row houses, which were 19th century survivors of structure type that has rarely survived in Detroit. These structures could easily have been moved (vis a vis the Gem/Century move)... but no attempt at any such move was ever discussed (at least not in the media).
So let's be real here... just because restoration and rehabilitation have/has taken place in and around downtown... it's silly to somehow give the DEGC and/or DDA credit for all of these developments.
Even the loft development workshops earlier this decade, which discussed historic tax credits, etc... were the work of Preservation Wayne, and not the DDA/DEGC.
So when praising the DDA and DEGC, we have to remember that many successful developments happened without them...
Post Number: 1385
|Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 7:15 pm: || |
Huggybear: I applaud your thoughtful and accurate defense of the DDA/DEGC. As you can see, however, not that many folks on here were impressesd; they apparently don't want to be confused by facts. (I must disclose that I am no fan of the DDA/DEGC and their leadership. They have pissed a lot of money away, most recently its $10 million plus "investment" in Harmonie Park. It was a mini-bailout. A good friend who is a director of a bank with a mortgage on one of the 3 buildings they purchased told me the value of the building was substantially lower than the mortgage balance and he's still confused how that gift came about.)
Gistok, I agree that there may have been development downtown not driven by the DDA/DEGC. However, I can't think of one that did not receive substantial taxpayer dollars or tax relief from future tax liability.
By the way, Forbes is a 100 times smarter than Dennis Archer and Beth Duncombe put together. Every dime of the cost to move the theaters was paid with tax dollars albeit the deal was structured to provide Forbes with maximum tax advantages, as I recall.
The YMCA had to be jubilant over the demolition and payment for its original building which was acquired in lieu of foreclosue; thank Al Ackerman for negotiating a price which was several times the market value of the building and made it possible to build the current, modern building it now occupies.
As I recall, the Detroit College of Law was also acquired in lieu of foreclosure and the funds permitted it to relocate to E. Lansing.
Post Number: 288
|Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2009 - 11:22 am: || |
There are a lot of apples and oranges at work here.
First, there is considerable confusion over what DDA and DEGC are and what they do. The Downtown Development Authority is a governmental body that is financed by a tax increment capture in the CBD (which is just I-75 to Jefferson, from the Lodge to I-375 - and the finance district does not even include that whole area). The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is a self-funded non-profit that staffs the DDA and has, since the late 1970s, served as the City's of Detroit's business attraction vehicle. Neither of these organizations has regulatory power, eminent domain,* or the ability to force land owners from practicing demolition by neglect.
Second, there is confusion about the degree to which these organizations are involved with projects. You can characterize any project you want as "private," but dig far enough, and it is the rare project that does not have DDA or DEGC involvement in it - whether it is in land assembly, lining up historic tax credits, brownfield work, funding, financing, matchmaking with grant sources, obtaining tax abatements, or helping push things through the city bureaucracy. DEGC, for its part, is also out all over the country trying to get businesses to relocate here.
Third, there is confusion over where "DDA" money comes from. DDA is funded by tax increment financing over *parts* of the CBD (which is a very small area). Unless you own property there and are subject to the TIF, it's not "your" tax dollars that DDA spends for this project or that.
The whole discussion of the DEGC and DDA that is taking place elsewhere on DY looks a lot more like an exercise in turning George Jackson into Emmanuel Goldstein and practicing a 1984-esqe Two Minutes' Hate than trying to understand the what and why of development and trying to understand how things actually work.
*Gistok, ask the Greater Corktown CDC about Fiona's and the row houses.
Post Number: 1039
|Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2009 - 11:27 am: || |
Your argument is foolish, Huggybear. Of course all new developments were built on old - the CBD is developed!
Also, the Madison Lenox was an important part of the Harmonie Park district. Though it was obviously in need of repair, it was as sturdy as any building from a foundational perspective - no matter what anyone says. I walked by it daily and recall the significant foundation walls.
Post Number: 1313
|Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2009 - 2:25 pm: || |
"Third, there is confusion over where "DDA" money comes from. DDA is funded by tax increment financing over *parts* of the CBD (which is a very small area). Unless you own property there and are subject to the TIF, it's not "your" tax dollars that DDA spends for this project or that. "
Garbage. TIF captures tax dollars that are paid within the CBD that would otherwise go to the city, county, schools, etc. Instead, those tax dollars are funneled back into the CBD to benefit who? The people who own property in the CBD!
Those tax dollars that are captured don't go to the city or the county or the schools but the need for city and county services (less so the schools) still exists. So who pays for it? Not the people in the CBD. It's everyone else who sees their share of taxes go up (or not go down) so that the difference can be made up. Every other taxpayer in Detroit, and Wayne County and the State of Michigan pays more so that Detroit can capture those dollars (and this is true of DDAs across the state but Detroit's is likely the largest).
The arguments for DDAs is that they generate tax revenues in other ways through jobs, retail spending, etc. that justify the diversion of the tax dollars for projects within the CBD. But in Detroit's case, the Ilitch's of the world have mastered the art of substituting their private dollars with public dollars through the DDA/DEGC. If your name is not Ilitch, the flow of tax dollars from the DDA/DEGC is not so smooth or quick.
Post Number: 4339
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 2:47 am: || |
Yes, folks like Ilitch have figured out the perfect way in which to game and raid Detroit's downtown TIFA. I know that my city's downtown TIFA has never been used to demolish prominent dinosaurs and sure as hell wouldn't be used to demolish privately-owned ones.
Post Number: 2557
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 5:08 am: || |
The Lansing Center sits on what used to be a dinner/dance place ... drawing a blank on the name, maybe the Jack Tar or Dines. The Olds Stadium sits on what was once Wilcox Pawn Shop, a Rescue Mission, Joe Covello's gay bar and the Famous Grill.
Post Number: 4340
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 5:21 am: || |
I made careful and specific reference to prominent dinosaur buildings. What's been happening in Detroit would be akin to Lansing's downtown TIFA having demolished the once-vacant (and now under renovation) Ottawa Street Power Station, or the vacant Knapp's Department Store. We're not talking dime-a-dozen storefronts, and, in any case, those storefronts were demolished as something was to be built in their place, immediate, and things were. Others have made that distinction in another thread.
Post Number: 2558
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 5:34 am: || |
reo complex? is that enough on a former dino? Lansing Civic Center? Does that qualify? The Roosevelt Hotel? Glamir Theater? Michigan? It one thing to be uninformed, but turely priceless when you dig in your heels.
Post Number: 4341
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 6:08 am: || |
REO is outside the downtown TIFA district, but even if it hadn't been, it was demolished before the downtown TIFA was even formed. The Michigan is still very much standing, and do you have proof that downtown TIFA even financed the demolition of the others you listed?
I know you relish and revel in being a complete and utter dick, but I think you should take your own advice.
(Message edited by lmichigan on March 30, 2009)
Post Number: 2559
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 6:43 am: || |
Only the facade and part of the inner court on the Michigan is still standing, the theater, and ballrooms are gone.
You made the claim no Lansing money went into any demos, prove it.
While doing your research you might want to look at the site of the downtown Raddison, the park across the street, Greyhound Sation and the rest of the block used for Olds Field.
Just a couple of reminders for your today's To-Do list.
Post Number: 4342
|Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 6:52 am: || |
You're just going in silly circles, now. I spoke specifically of prominent dinosaurs and using TIFA funds to demolish them, and you continue to toss peanuts on the ground? Give me a f%ckin' break, man. If you want to continue to compare any of those to using DDA/TIFA funds to demolish something like the Lafayette, you can do so...by yourself. You're something more than ridiculous and a jerk, to boot.