Renovation Set to Begin on Historic Whitney Building


DETROIT — Whitney Partners LLC, joined by Gov. Rick Snyder, local economic development officials, and representatives of the downtown business community announced the start of construction on the redevelopment of Detroit’s historic David Whitney Building, an $82 million project located in the heart of Detroit’s growing Grand Circus Park neighborhood.

Whitney Partners LLC is a partnership of the Roxbury Group, a Detroit-based real estate development company, and the Lifestyle Boutique Division of Trans Inns Management Inc., a Michigan-based hotel management company.

“Today marks an important milestone in the incredible two-year collaboration that is bringing this irreplaceable building back to its original glory,” David Di Rita, Roxbury Group principal and Whitney Partners member, said. “Projects like this don’t just happen.  They take the sort of unwavering commitment we have seen from team-members such as Starwood Hotels, the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., Michigan Economic Development Corp., Invest Detroit and Bank of America.”

Construction of the1915 Daniel Burnham-designed David Whitney Building will be managed by Detroit-based Walbridge Aldinger. The redevelopment includes the restoration of the building’s ornate interior finishes as well as extensive exterior renovations to return elements of Burnham’s original design, including replacement of cornices and the reconstruction of the building’s historic roof-top sign.  These elements were removed during a 1959 modernization of the David Whitney’s exterior.

The reopening of the Whitney Building brings Aloft Hotels from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. to Detroit, marking the brand’s first project in-state and second entry into a mixed-use historic project. Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney will have 136 rooms, along with the brand’s signature amenities including the WXYZ bar and Re:mix lounge to the ground floor of the David Whitney, as well as a 24-hour fitness center, and 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space on the second floor.

The 19-story Whitney Building will also have 105 one and two-bedroom residential apartment units that occupy the top nine floors. The building’s iconic atrium will include a garden lounge and the second floor access to the Grand Circus Park Detroit People Mover Station will be reopened. 

Today, the Whitney Partners also previewed concepts for a restaurant to be located at the building’s Woodward Avenue and Park Avenue corner. The restaurant will draw its inspiration from the David Whitney’s history and combine classic, early-20th century character with an innovative approach to modern American comfort foods.

Financial support for the David Whitney is made possible through a combination of historic, brownfield, and new market tax credits, as well as funding and investment from the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., Invest Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“This is a monumental day made possible by a broad public-private partnership and steadfast confidence in Detroit’s comeback,” Gov. Snyder said. “It demonstrates what we can accomplish when we come together to solve challenges — stronger communities, new business and job opportunities, and a brighter future for all of our citizens.

Additionally, Bank of America is providing tax credit investment as well as construction and permanent financing to the project. Matt Elliott, Bank of America Michigan state president said, “Our goal is utilize our resources and talent to improve the financial lives of our customers, clients, and the communities we serve. Through projects such as the David Whitney and the Broderick Tower renovation, we are investing in the bright future ahead for the new face of downtown Detroit. We believe in this city and we’re incredibly proud to be involved in a project of this magnitude.”