The Platform, a multi-faceted real estate development firm in Detroit, today announced the completion of a $40-million renovation of the historic, Albert Kahn-designed 6001 Cass building in the Midtown district near Tech Town.
As part of today’s announcement, company officials unveiled one of the largest vertical blade signs in the city. The four-story sign, standing 44 feet tall and 12 feet wide, replicates a Cadillac LaSalle sign that once adorned the building more than 75 years ago.
The sign highlights two of the building’s largest tenants. In October 2019, Tata Technologies relocated its North American headquarters to the top floor of 6001 Cass, occupying 20,000 square feet and adding 150 jobs.
The building, set in the New Amsterdam Historic District, is also home to WeWork, which provides shared workspaces and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups, small businesses, and large enterprises. The company opened in 6001 Cass this year in more than 91,000 square feet, including the renovated former auto showroom space on the second floor.
The development’s full historic redevelopment included the restoration of the former Cadillac LaSalle showroom, which features a detailed plaster ceiling. The building also features a historical timeline that highlights the building’s history and Detroit’s automotive roots.
“This sign celebrates a complete restoration of this historic building, a project that we are incredibly proud of,” says Andrew Sherman, senior development manager at The Platform. “We are honored to celebrate our great tenants who have joined us in the greater New Center area and contribute to the growing energy and momentum in this part of Detroit.”
The six-story, 135,000-square-foot structure was built in 1920 as a Cadillac showroom and service center. LaSalle, a former automotive brand that was part of General Motors, also occupied space with Cadillac. Nearby, at 450 Amsterdam St., Cadillac operated an assembly plant starting in 1905 before establishing its headquarters and assembly operations at Clark Street and Michigan Avenue in southwest Detroit.
Prior to The Platform’s renovation, the building was home to Wayne State University’s criminal justice program. The Platform closed on the purchase of 6001 Cass from WSU in June 2018.
The design, fabrication, and installation were performed by SignGraphix in Clarkston. Farr Associates was the architect on the building’s renovation, and PCI One Source Contracting was the contractor. The building’s branding and the historical timeline were completed by Zoyes Creative.
In Related News, The Platform opened the Obama Building on Thursday in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood on the city’s west side. The $3.6-million renovation of the historic bank building at Grand River Avenue and Lahser Road will bring four affordable, loft apartments and 8,800 square feet of retail space to the corner and serve as a new gateway for the neighborhood’s main commercial corridor.
The building also will support neighborhood retail and local entrepreneurs, helping to extend the mission of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF). The Obama is the first SNF-funded development to open in the neighborhood since Mayor Mike Duggan’s December 2018 announcement in Old Redford that the fund was being expanded and would include the neighborhood.
“Completing the rehabilitation of the Obama Building represents a high point of our work in Detroit,” says Peter Cummings, CEO of The Platform, which owns the Fisher Building, Albert Kahn Building, and several other structures. “Our team is committed to making a difference in the neighborhoods — in this case, historic Old Redford.
“This is a classic example of the private sector partnering with foundations and government to accomplish together what none of us could have accomplished on their own. Kudos to the State of Michigan, the Fisher Foundation, Horizon Bank, and Flagstar Bank, through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, for supporting this effort.”
The Obama is the second completed project citywide to receive funding through Mayor Duggan’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund initiative, a public-private partnership administered by Invest Detroit that raises funds from philanthropic partners and then invests that money into 10 neighborhoods spread across the city, including Old Redford.
So far, the fund has raised just shy of its $59 million goal and has invested in everything from streetscape and park improvements to new construction and rehab projects like The Obama, which received a recoverable grant of $300,000 from the fund. The residents of Old Redford will be seeing additional SNF investments coming to their neighborhood, including the Old Redford Link, improvements to Rogell Park, and more. Flagstar Bank represents the SNF funding community in Old Redford.
The project included a $1.23 million loan from Horizon Bank, a $750,000 investment from the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and a $750,000 CRP grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Initial retail tenants are the nonprofit Changing Lives & Staying Sober, which will open its headquarters in the building, and a health and wellness retailer.
The building was originally a Peoples State Bank branch and designed by architect C. William Palmer. It opened in 1917, nine years before Redford was annexed by the city of Detroit. After the bank closed in 1931, a likely victim of The Great Depression, the building was home to Stein’s Department Store, among other tenants.
However, the building had been abandoned for at least a decade before The Platform began its renovations, and had suffered from years of neglect and deterioration, including a collapsed roof.
The building is owned by the Peter and Julie Fisher Cummings Foundation, with The Platform serving as developer. PCI Construction was the lead contractor, and the architect was Detroit-based Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects. The property manager is REMS Real Estate, located in the nearby Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood.