Historic Detroit Club to Reopen in January, Be Private with Public Restaurant


The historic Detroit Club at the northeast corner of Cass Avenue and Fort Street will reopen in January following a three-year restoration by Lynn and Emre Uralli, principals of Luke Investments in Detroit. As part of the reopening, the four-story club will be private, though the original grill and a lounge spanning two rooms on the first floor is being converted into a public restaurant offering 64 seats.

As part of the restoration, Luke Investments, which acquired the club several years ago, have added numerous improvements, including 10 luxury estate suites on the fourth floor, a billiards room, along with a cigar bar and neighboring lounge on the third floor, and a spa in the lower level.

The spa includes a 15-person whirlpool, along with private locker rooms, treatment rooms, and saunas for men and women. “The spa will be a great place to wind down after a long day at the office or over the weekend,” says Regina Peter, director of sales and marketing at the Detroit Club. “The lower level wasn’t used very much, and it has undergone an extensive restoration, as has the entire club.”

The club, which has been closed for three years, includes many of the original fixtures, furnishings, and ornamentations. The front desk remains in place on the first floor, as well as a member lounge and adjoining library. The latter room will see the addition of a small bar for members.

The first floor also includes restored marble floors, plaster ceilings, and oak panel and trimmed walls. “There are some new (wall) textiles, but most everything is original, including the chandeliers, sconces, restored chairs, and tables,” Peter says. “There are new ladies’ restrooms and restored men’s restrooms, and we’re re-equipping the phone booths to be charging stations (for smartphones, tablets, and laptops).”

The restoration and new design features are being overseen by Lynn Uralli.

The second floor includes a 120-seat ballroom, along with adjoining meeting space that includes two boardrooms. Throughout the club, carpeting was pulled up, and the original oak and marble floors were restored. The massive staircase, which includes landings between each floor, has been restored.

The largest banquet room, along with a large fireplace, is located on the third floor, and can seat up to 150 guests. Three adjoining meeting rooms join it. More people can be accommodated for strolling parties and events.

For weddings, the club offers a large bridal suite on the fourth floor, and it is located next to a balcony that overlooks the third floor ballroom. “It’s perfect for the bride and groom, who can make an appearance on the balcony for pictures, and then flow down to the reception,” says Peter, during a tour on Tuesday.

The cigar bar, as well as the lounge, is completely new, and is located in a former enclosed walkway that once connected the club to the Detroit Free Press building. It includes a bar, sconces, mirrors, wall treatments, and a series of Turkish, stained glass ceiling lamps. The lounge includes leather armchairs, sconces, the same Turkish stained glass ceiling lamps, and tables.

A kitchen is being added on the third level (to complement the main floor kitchen), while a wine cellar offering room for up to 2,500 bottles of wine will be located near the new kitchen. “We will be offering an extensive wine list, along with a full selection of local beer and spirits,” Peter says. “Many of the paintings are still here, and we’ve added a few new ones here and there.”

She adds the menu for the public restaurant will offer between eight and 10 entrees, including a selection of fish, poultry, and steaks. “But it won’t be a steakhouse,” she says. “Rather, we will focus on local food from Eastern Market, and the menu could have some items that change daily or weekly. We also found stacks of old recipes, and we’re looking to see if some of them can be incorporated into the menu.”

The restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner, though on Sundays there will be “a classic brunch, though with twists that we will come up with,” along with a Sunday dinner, she says. The club owns a parking lot on the east side of the structure, and there will be valet services offered for members and guests. There also will be a staffed shoe shining station.

“The 10 suites on the fourth floor all have their own identity, and one includes a skylight while another offers a private balcony (on the east side of the building),” Peter says. “We wanted to open in time for the North American International Auto Show (Jan. 13-28, includes media, industry, and public days at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit), and we are now taking reservations for events.”

The membership application process will begin next month (an exact date has yet to be selected). Peter says while final numbers are still being worked out, the buy-in for members will be $5,000, with dues of around $250 per month. She projects the club will have around 500 members split between corporate members, family members, and younger members. “We also plan to be affiliated with nonprofit groups in the area that our members can engage with,” she adds.

Luke Investments previously owned the David Stott Building and the Detroit Free Press Building that they later sold to Bedrock, the real estate arm of Quicken Loans Inc. Both of those structures are being converted into offices and residences, along with ground floor retail space. Dan Gilbert is founder and chairman of Quicken Loans.

In 1882, the Detroit Club was established in a converted house along Lafayette Boulevard before the current Romanesque and Renaissance Revival structure was built at Cass Avenue and Fort Street in 1892 (712 Cass).

Original features included the grill, library, family room, and dining room. Early members included attorney Samuel T. Douglas, banker James Campbell, former Michigan Governor Russell A. Alger, and Michigan Telephone Co. founder Hugh McMillan.

Later, numerous auto barons were members, including Henry Ford, Walter P. Chrysler, Charles Brady King, and James Packard. High-profile guests included Charles Lindbergh, John D. Rockefeller, Edward G. Robinson, Prince William of Sweden, Empress Zita of Austria, and Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman.

For more information, call 313-338-3222 or click here.

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