While making thank you’s at the Construction Kickoff Event of the Starwood Element Hotel at the Metropolitan in Detroit, David DiRita of The Roxbury Group thanked the property management team (Zule Hospitality) for hearing out his original vision.
Specifically, “For not hanging up the phone when I first suggested that I [wanted] to come look at vacant, slightly radioactive building in downtown Detroit,” DiRita said.
“It’s not radioactive anymore,” Di Rita added during his speech on August 29. (To learn more about the removal process and what could be preserved in the main lobby, take a look at Lisa Heine’s Insight).
Next to the stage in the Metropolitan lobby stood a small tree in a planter covered in lights not yet lit, a big ceremonial switch standing between it and Mayor Mike Duggan.
This is the last of Detroit’s “roof trees,” caused by seeds getting into cracked roofs all over the city. After years of neglect and free access to rain fall, these trees began to bloom on roofs around Detroit. The tree being celebrated at the ceremony has now left its home on the Metropolitan roof and will be relocated to a city park.
The kickoff event continued with the Eric Means of the Means Group, partners of The Roxbury Group. As Means took the microphone, torrential downpour and deafening thunderstorms gained momentum outside, he joked about the weather as he began.
“I’ve always been drawn to these crazy transformational projects,” Means said.
“After a lot of research… we went through all of these iterative processes to determine the best fit for this building was,” said Means. “Hospitality does fit this building quite well.”
QEA is the architect of record for this transformation of what was once one of the earliest forms of what is now considered a modern day mall, specifically housing jewelers, diamond-cutters and watch makers, into Michigan’s first Element Hotel by Starwood.
“We are going to pursue this with meticulous fine-toothed [comb] to preserve the historic nature of this building... It truly is a gem and we’re thankful to be the group revitalizing this building,” Means concluded.
The Guest of Honor, however, was Mayor Mike Duggan.
Duggan spoke of his memories working in Detroit through the years watching some of the most iconic buildings close. The Metropolitan holds the title of one of the longest standing vacant building in downtown Detroit at 38 years unoccupied.
“It shows how far the transformation has come, that we have worked back… to the oldest [vacant building],” said Duggan.
Duggan shared his excitement for the soon to be commercial space, restaurant, and 110 hotel rooms that will bring jobs to Detroiters.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for Detroiters, which is really why we’re here,” said Means.
Then, to commemorate construction beginning on this building, the switch was flipped turning on the lights wrapping Detroit’s last roof tree. The rain outside raged again and let out a big bang of thunder, calling an end to the event. Perhaps the tree will continue to grow from the rain in its future city park home as much as it flourished on the Metropolitan rooftop.