Ford Building in Downtown Detroit Acquired by The Sterling Group, Improvements Planned


The Sterling Group, a multi-faceted real estate company, has closed on the acquisition of the Ford Building in downtown Detroit. The 19-story structure, located at the northwest corner of Griswold and Larned streets, has some 100 tenants and is around 80 percent occupied.

The Sterling Group, which owns and operates the 333 W. Fort Building, as well as managing Grand Park Centre along W. Adams Street that borders Grand Circus Park, is expected to invest in making ongoing improvements to the Ford Building, which it will manage. The 202,886-square-foot structure, built in 1909, was previously owned by Tom Paglia Jr.

“The acquisition was completed with the idea of capturing the rising tide in downtown Detroit for office space,” says Jim Bieri, president and CEO of Stokas Bieri Real Estate in downtown Detroit. “There is less and less space downtown, and since they have available space, they will be able to attract more businesses from the suburbs and outside the region.”

The historic Ford Building, built by John Battice Ford Sr. at a cost of $1 million, was designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham, who was the director of works for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (he also designed the Dime Bank building in 1913, now the Chrysler House). For the Ford Building, Battice and Burnham used white terra cotta panels on the exterior, along with Neo-Classical details and plate glass.

The interior includes plaster walls and ceiling, white marble wainscoting, and mahogany detailing. It was by far the tallest building in Detroit when it was completed. The site is just north of the original Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit built in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and around 100 men.

Ford, who is not related to the Ford family that founded Ford Motor Co., was the third-generation owner of Libbey Owens Ford Plate Glass Co. as well as Michigan Alkali Co.

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