$600K sale al­lows non­profit to give retro mo­tel new life

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY LOUIS AGUILAR The Detroit News Staff Writer Chris­tine Fer­retti con­trib­uted to this re­port. cfer­retti@de­troit­news.com nterry@de­troit­news.com

A for­mer mo­tel and trib­ute to mid-cen­tury kitsch de­sign has been sold to the Mid­town Detroit Inc., the non­profit de­vel­op­ment group that plans to re­vive the empty build­ing.

The for­mer Univer­sity Mo­tel, 5841 Sec­ond Ave., on the north­ern edge of Wayne State Univer­sity is tat­tered and trash-strewn, yet re­tains some of its vin­tage charm.

The sale of the city-owned mo­tel and an ad­ja­cent two-story build­ing at 5847 Sec­ond was ap­proved Tues­day by the City Coun­cil for $600,000. Plans in­clude a ho­tel, “mi­cro-res­i­dences” and re­tail, ac­cord­ing to a City Coun­cil doc­u­ment.

Of­fi­cials from Mid­town Inc. did not re­turn an email or tele­phone calls Tues­day af­ter­noon. The non­profit has been play­ing a ma­jor role in shap­ing de­vel­op­ment in the boom­ing area north of down­town.

The two-story, 23-room mo­tel still has a big white sign out front ad­ver­tis­ing “movies” as a draw. The an­gu­lar, glass-walled lobby con­tains a statue of Bud­dha in lotus po­si­tion be­side a bright or­ange sign posted by the city’s Build­ing Safety and En­gi­neer­ing Depart­ment declar­ing the build­ing needs to be va­cated. Four late-model Mercedes Benz ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a vin­tage road­ster , can be found in the park­ing lot.

The city bought by the two build­ings in 2014 from the Wayne County Trea­surer in 2014 for $29,700, city prop­erty records show. Detroit. Rock Ven­tures has said it an­tic­i­pates the com­plex would be com­pleted by Novem­ber 2020 and vowed to cover any cost over­runs.

Khalil Ra­hal, who heads Wayne County’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp., agreed it isn’t easy to find a site for a jail project but stressed “this is not a done deal yet.”

Gil­bert’s pro­posal has been in com­pe­ti­tion with Chicago-based Walsh Con­struc­tion’s plans to fin­ish the jail site at its cur­rent lo­ca­tion on Gra­tiot.

Walsh has pitched a plan to com­plete the ex­ist­ing jail site with two op­tions: One had 1,608 beds at $269 mil­lion and the other called for 2,200 beds at $317.6 mil­lion.

Wayne County in Septem­ber ex­tended a $500,000 stipend agree­ment with Walsh Con­struc­tion to keep the firm’s county jail pro­posal on the ta­ble as it looks to reach the sep­a­rate agree­ment with Gil­bert.

The county now has to de­cide by Dec. 1 or pay Walsh the $500,000, of­fi­cials said.

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