The Westward Expansion

Now that the east side of downtown Detroit has been vastly improved, attention is shifting west.

dteDowntown Detroit was neglected for half a century, but over the last decade, the east side of Woodward Avenue has undergone a major transformation, with two sports stadiums, the Detroit Opera House, the restoration of Music Hall and the Gem Theatre, a much-improved Detroit Athletic Club, Compuware Corp.’s headquarters, numerous restaurants and storefronts, residential and commercial lofts, and the upcoming Greektown Casino expansion. There’s more to come, and the change is real.

Now look for major improvements on the west side of Woodward, where the $188.9-million restoration of the Book Cadillac is a grand slam. Having already sold two-thirds of its 64 condominiums, the hotel is garnering strong bookings for hotel rooms and convention space. The new MGM Grand Detroit is impressive, as is the MotorCity Casino (though it’s just outside downtown proper). And in mid-December, the $80-million Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby hotel is scheduled to open at First and Lafayette.

Next up is $52 million in improvements at DTE Energy’s headquarters.

Once surrounded by surface parking lots, DTE sold 25.5 acres of land to neighboring MGM and used the proceeds to design and build a new campus, including a cafeteria, park space, reflection pond, butterfly garden, amphitheater, and numerous other improvements. It’s set for completion in mid-December.

“The campus design will help us attract and retain talented employees,” says Richard D. Carrithers Jr., DTE’s director of facility optimization. Working with Southfield-based architecture firm Neumann Smith, DTE converted 2,500 parking spaces into a corporate oasis for 3,200 employees, which should serve as a template for future such projects.

“There’s more to do [now] on the west side of downtown, including a possible new hockey arena, the expansion of Cobo Center, [a new 4,000-employee headquarters for Livonia-based Quicken Loans Inc.], and the renovation of Capitol Park,” says Joel Smith, president of Neumann Smith.

Strategic Planning: DBusiness is partnering with Pathway Human Capital Advisors and Wayne State University on a survey that will examine issues and opportunities in implementing business strategies. Close to 500 executives in the region will be asked to participate, and we plan to publish the results in the first quarter. We hope to hear from everyone.

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