Renovation Underway on Historic Detroit Life Building Behind Fox Theatre


The restoration of the historic Detroit Life Building’s ornate façade is now under way in The District Detroit, the 50-block area that includes Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park, and Ford Field. The building is owned by Olympia Development of Michigan, a division of Ilitch Holdings Inc. in Detroit.

The work, which is being done in anticipation of future development, is in the Park Avenue Historic District in the Columbia Street neighborhood. The building, located behind the Fox Theatre, will likely be occupied by office tenants, with ground-floor commercial space.

Built in 1922 and located at 2210 Park Avenue near Columbia Street, the 10-story office building features reinforced concrete, steel and, limestone cladding. It was the original home of its namesake, Detroit Life Insurance Co, which occupied the top four floors.

Restoration work, being led by the Detroit-based rehabilitation specialists Kraemer Design Group, will preserve the building’s authentic look in the Beaux-Arts architectural style.

“The opportunity to provide our expertise in historic rehabilitation for the Detroit Life building has been a rewarding and exciting process,” says Brian Rebain, principal at Kraemer Design Group. “We look forward to helping Olympia Development of Michigan revive the original glory of one of Detroit’s most exemplary historic structures.”

The Ilitch organization restored the historic Fox Theatre and moved the Little Caesars headquarters to the Fox Office Centre in 1987. In addition to the Detroit Life building, other historic buildings scheduled for restoration in The District Detroit include The Alhambra, at 100 Temple St.; the Eddystone, 2305 Park Ave.; the American Hotel at 408 Temple St.; and the former United Artists building at 150 West Bagley.

The buildings, with restoration work set to start this year, will offer a mixture of residential units, offices, and ground-floor commercial space.

In addition, a spring opening is projected for the nine-story Little Caesars world headquarters campus expansion (immediately south of the Fox Theatre), and the new Mike Ilitch School of Business building at Wayne State University (Woodward and Temple).

Current data from the University of Michigan projects The District Detroit will account for an economic impact of more than $2 billion by 2020 and create more than 20,000 construction and construction-related jobs, and 3,000 permanent jobs.

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