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