Neon Hammer & Nail Building Coming Down for New Projects

Dec 15

12:00 PM

By Erin Piscopink

Tagged: All Neighborhoods

Read the Detroit Free Press article in its original format HERE

Midtown Detroit's Neon Hammer & Nail Building Coming Down for New Projects

John Gallagher for
Detroit Free Press

Detroit's thriving Midtown district will see two important new structures going up soon and one landmark coming down.

Cleveland developer John Ferchill said last week he hopes to break ground on a new five-story medical arts building at 3750-3800 Woodward Avenue. Ferchill, best known as the developer of the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, told the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority that the project will cost upwards of $60 million and contain more than 150,000 square feet of office space and a parking deck with more than 600 spaces.

The project means the razing of a Midtown landmark, the office tower at 3800 Woodward that's emblazoned with the iconic neon hammer coming down on a nail atop the structure. Ferchill told the DBRA he tried to save the tower to convert it to dorms for Wayne State University but the economics didn't work.

The new five-story building will house the offices of Wayne State physicians and the Detroit Medical Center will take the fifth floor. A smaller retail building also be built on the site. Work should start in the spring.

In the other project, the nonprofit group Midtown Detroit Inc. plans to break ground Wednesday for a 30,000-square-foot, three-story commercial building at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Willis Street that will have Lawrence Technological University as the anchor tenant.

The building will house Lawrence Tech's Detroit Center for Design + Technology, which will consolidate existing programs in Detroit run by the university's College of Architecture and Design.

The private sector business funding agency Invest Detroit played a major role in financing this project and will have offices in the new building, too, as will the building's architects, Quinn Evans.

The Kresge Foundation provided a $300,000 grant to help create Lawrence Tech's Detroit center. NCB Capital Impact, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Detroit Development Fund, Knight Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and developer Peter Cummings are some of the other financing partners.

"The arts are a driving force behind the resurgence of Midtown Detroit and this new center will add to that trend," said Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc. "We also need creative development in this area, and the Lawrence Tech faculty and students can contribute to that process. Adding this center is an important step in the long-term redevelopment of this part of the Woodward corridor."

"Having all LTU's Detroit projects and academic programming under one roof will provide synergies that will position existing programs to have a greater social and community impact," said Amy Green Deines, associate dean of LTU's College of Architecture and Design. "Our partnership with Midtown Detroit and this new prominent location on Woodward Avenue will lead to more opportunities to engage organizations and groups that are working to rebuild and rejuvenate the city."