Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 An architectural gem polishes up its image (Guardian) Previous Next
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 3260
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 67.172.95.197
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 3:07 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I didn't see this posted so I thought I'd post it, here. While 50% doesn't seem like a high occupancy, you must take into account how empty the building was:

An architectural gem polishes up its image

Sterling Group restores Guardian Building's breathtaking features, and sees occupancy rise.

Eric Pope / Special to The Detroit News

DETROIT -- What used to be called the "Cathedral of Finance" has become the flagship property and headquarters for a real estate development firm that is placing most of its bets in Detroit.

In 2003, Sterling Group acquired the Guardian Building at 500 Griswold in downtown Detroit after MichCon moved out to merge with DTE Energy.

The new owners started with an occupancy rate of 6 percent.

Less than three years later, occupancy has risen to 50 percent in the 500,000-square-foot office building. LaSalle Bank and 10 stores are in the retail promenade and around the lobby that is often described as breath-taking.

The exterior red-hued surface and architectural flourishes distinguish the Guardian from its downtown neighbors, and Sterling Group has polished up many of the unique features of the colorful cathedral-like entrance that reflects American Indian, Aztec and Arts and Crafts traditions.

Edsel Ford was president of the Union Trust Co. when the 40-story bank headquarters was completed in 1929. The bank closed its doors during the Depression and was reorganized as Union Guardian Trust.

Vice President Danny Samson said Sterling is aggressively pricing the Guardian at $16.50 to $18.50 per square foot, well below the average rate of $23 or more for Class A office space in downtown Detroit.

Samson believes office buildings like the Guardian benefit from the overall downtown revitalization that started with several "big ticket items" and has continued with retail, restaurant, entertainment and residential development.

"You're in the middle of the hustle and bustle, and you feel it," Samson said. "You walk down the street and literally bump into people you're doing business with. It's an urban environment that cannot be replicated in the suburbs."

Detroit's office vacancy rate of 15.2 percent for Class A office space is lower than the Metro Detroit average of 17 percent, according to the year-end survey conducted by Signature Associates Oncor International of Southfield.

Catharine LaMont recently moved LaMont Title Corp. and 34 employees to the Guardian's 21st floor. She praised the Sterling Group for treating "the premier architectural jewel of the city with great respect."

"It really is a pleasure to walk in here every morning," LaMont said. "It's just wonderful to be in the center of everything and to be in the most beautiful building."

Sterling Group plans to replace the 511 Woodward building next to the Guardian with a 350-space parking garage with six or seven retail stores facing Woodward. The 18-month project could begin this year.

The founder and president of Sterling Group is Gary Torgow, a lawyer turned developer who recently served on the Super Bowl XL Host Committee.

Sterling Group was a partner in the Campus Martius development and now owns half a dozen buildings in downtown Detroit, including 333 W. Fort and 607 Shelby. It developed the 156-unit Lofts at Merchants Row on Woodward and has started construction of the 53-unit Ellington across Woodward from the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

Last fall, Sterling Group and a California partner bought Gateway Industrial Park, which has a million square feet of space and 70 acres at the intersection of I-96 and the Southfield Expressway in Detroit.

Samson said the large industrial property with great accessibility shows the opportunity available in the city. "In Detroit, there's still the ability to find hidden treasures," he said.

Eric Pope is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pb cs.dll/article?AID=/20060228/B IZ/602280372/1001
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Solarflare
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Username: Solarflare

Post Number: 382
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 63.69.106.29
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 3:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I was in there Sunday showing the lobby area to a freind from out of town. Awesome.
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Jdmdetroit
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Username: Jdmdetroit

Post Number: 149
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 170.20.11.116
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 3:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

VERY good news!

The Guardian building is a true gem... so much better than the stale, dull suburban office towers.
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 253
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 68.2.191.57
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 3:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^ Be sure to click that link for the pictures.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1223
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 70.228.1.205
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 3:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Guardian is freaking amazing. Wirt Rowland gave Griswold the character which it retains today with the Buhl, Guard, and Penob. Anyone who makes substantial investment to put these buildings back on the pedestal of greatness that they belong on should be commended.
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 14
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 209.220.229.254
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 4:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Not that the 511 Woodward building holds any architectural value, but yet another parking garage facing Woodward isn't what I like to hear.

At least it will have retail, the new generation of downtown parking garages are pretty attractive, as parking structures go.
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Kiki
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Username: Kiki

Post Number: 8
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 192.85.50.2
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 4:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Never knew that building was so beautiful inside. I'll have to check it out in person.
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E_hemingway
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Username: E_hemingway

Post Number: 503
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.42.176.123
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 5:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There was a thread about the proposed parking garage what seems like a few months ago. I can't find it in the archives though. Anyways, I'm fine with the parking garage if it makes the Gaurdian more viable, has ground floor retail and is done well, a la Opera House or CVS store garage. I remember informed sources saying that was the plan, however, I haven't seen any movement on it. Like everything else non-Super Bowl related, the project must be on Detroit time. This statement concerns me the most: "The 18-month project COULD begin this year." I'll keep my fingers crossed for it, but that statement dampens some of my hopes.
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Romanized
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Username: Romanized

Post Number: 198
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 71.4.97.70
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 7:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Can't wait for some more geniuses say all the new development sucks and we need some more old looking skyscrapers.
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Gambling_man
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Username: Gambling_man

Post Number: 666
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 199.178.193.5
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 8:02 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Did someone say that they allow weddings/receptions in the lobby? A friend of mine wants a "different" place to have a nice wedding.....is there anyplace else in town that anyone can think of? Does the Guardian?
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Jiminnm
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Username: Jiminnm

Post Number: 317
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 69.241.164.222
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 8:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It's hard to believe that the beautiful Pewabic ceiling was once covered with a dropped ceiling of foam panels.
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Chow
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Username: Chow

Post Number: 262
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.42.171.71
Posted on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 12:27 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The ceiling tiles are Rookwood, not Pewabic.
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Gumby
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Username: Gumby

Post Number: 907
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 204.39.225.143
Posted on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 10:42 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Is the Guardian class A because the article makes it seem as it is?
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Everydayislikesunday
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Username: Everydayislikesunday

Post Number: 216
Registered: 12-2004
Posted From: 68.41.153.99
Posted on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 10:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

gambling man -- not sure what kind of "different" setting your friend is looking for. The Guardian Building would be gorgeous, though. The Scarab Club also does weddings. Outside of the city, The Henry Ford hosts wedding at numerous places on their campus.
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Rsa
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Username: Rsa

Post Number: 787
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.255.247.119
Posted on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 10:57 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

gambling _man; you can rent the lobby out for ceremonies-it's been done before. i think it can only hold about 100 and is about $5k to rent. you can rent the rowland cafe in the retail space, not sure on the costs yet-they're finalizing pricing after superbowl stuff. i expect a pakage in the mail this week. they can also rent out the 32 floor for the reception. it holds many more people but is also $5k to rent, including nothing else. eg. find your own catering, insurance, setup, etc.

ms. rsa and i just picked our ceremony and reception sites. if your friends want to pick our brains on the interesting places we investigated, shoot me an email: rockstarchitect@aol.com
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Swingline
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Username: Swingline

Post Number: 409
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 172.168.97.219
Posted on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 1:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Gumby, I don't think that the Guardian is considered Class A space. The floor plates are a little too unusual for 21st century office uses. Sterling is building out some floors on spec and these are quite nice though. Rental rates are pretty reasonable for what you're getting.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 1837
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.72.220
Posted on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 12:05 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

IIRC the drop ceiling was only in the elevator lobby, and had hidden the stained glass. The former main banking hall had a painted ceiling that was made of horse hair (among other materials)to absorb the sound and prevent echoes.

The office building lobby had Rookwood tiles and the outside arched entranceways had Pewabic tiles.
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 3271
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 67.172.95.197
Posted on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 2:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, very few historic buildings have been update enough to become Class A office space. I believe the Guardian is Class B. And, you can have very nice Class C space, the difference in Class is not necessarily looks or maintenance, but how many modern amenities a building includes.
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Reetz12
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Username: Reetz12

Post Number: 34
Registered: 09-2005
Posted From: 216.144.213.130
Posted on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 10:35 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

GamblingMan what about the olive room?
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Gambling_man
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Username: Gambling_man

Post Number: 668
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 199.178.193.5
Posted on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 10:49 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The olive room would make a good wedding, but I don't think it is something "different"....
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Smogboy
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Username: Smogboy

Post Number: 1884
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 69.47.101.255
Posted on Saturday, March 04, 2006 - 12:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I just had lunch at the Guardian a few weeks back and looked glassy eyed at the lobby thinking what a great place to have an office. Does anyone know what the offices themselves are like? Seeing as how I've never had a reason to go beyond the lobby area, I was wondering if some of these visual & architectural gems are also on the office floors.
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Motorcitymayor2026
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Username: Motorcitymayor2026

Post Number: 540
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 68.251.25.41
Posted on Saturday, March 04, 2006 - 1:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

guardianbuilding.com has pictures of many inside offices. look very nice
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Smogboy
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Username: Smogboy

Post Number: 1885
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 69.47.101.255
Posted on Saturday, March 04, 2006 - 3:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Great pics! The place is truly a gem!
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Broken_main
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Username: Broken_main

Post Number: 841
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 69.222.11.226
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 5:33 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I visited the Guardian for the first time while closing on my house last month. I was amazed at how spectacular the interior was. They were in the process of rehabbing a bank of elevators while i was there. The doorman was showing off all of his pictures with the SBXL celebrities and the staff was very helpful and friendly there.

I shopped pureDetroit as it has become one of my favorite downtown shops(while it gives me yet another opportunity to visit the building)

Kudos to the Sterling group for saving one of Detroits Gems!!!

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