Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Detroit B.Z .

It is Time

The nest is almost empty. #3 leaves for school this fall. #2 is wisely taking his time towards graduation. #1 is busy doing his best to avoid growing up. I taught him well.

So the 'Rents discussion has been the debate between rural and urban We've spent 18 years in a suburb and that has been more than enough. The problem has been too many options, but we made the decision and started looking for a condo in Detroit.

Okay, get your chin off the floor, it looks silly.

Since moving to the metro area in 1996 we've spent a lot of time in downtown Detroit. Tiger games. Concerts. Plays. The DIA. Restaurants. A MILS from Wayne State. One of us ran the marathon. DUFL. An anniversary at the RenCen Marriott. A few hockey games. Restaurants. Motor City Brewing and Atwaters. Eastern Market. There's a lot to do and our hope is that Detroit's rebirth will continue from the downtown out.

Woodward Place
We have been driving past these town homes since they were built. They are just across I-75 from Comerica Park, Ford Field, the Fox Theater, the State Theater (now the "Fillmore") and HockeyTown Café. Just a short walk north on Woodward and you are in Midtown. Condo hunting took us to Lafayette Park, and New Center, and the area near the DIA. We even toured the Riverfront condos, those white towers west of Joe Louis Arena.
66 Winder as seen from St. John's Episcopal
The view from the condo at 66 Winder was fantastic, but it was small. It would have been fine for a couple of 20-somethings, but at $225K  it cost too much money for too little space. Lafayette Park has better prices and much of it was designed by Mies Van der Rohe, but other concerns were always present. We looked at one co-op with an asking price of $40K. The size was right but the place was trashed. We would have had to do a total gutting and remodel. Riverfront had great views of Canada, but had a real Marriott feel to it.

We did find a place we like in Brush Park, between Woodward Ave. and John R. I am especially happy because we are three short city blocks from our seats at Comerica Park. We can leave our front door and, with a short stop for stadium security, be in our seats in 6 minutes.
Walk out our front door
and around the corner to Comerica.

Adelaide Before Z

Today was the second game of the season. More importantly, it was the first day since we closed on the condo that the weather was nice enough to walk around and get some before pictures. There is a lot of change planned for the area, so let's take a moment to document what the neighborhood looks
like before we move in.

Brewster Towers - These are being demolished

 Parking for games now. A new hockey arena in two years

Looking South on Woodward

The M-1 light rail will be very accessible for us.   The initial route will go up Woodward from Larned to West Grand Boulevard, that is from Hart Plaza to New Center. If we really want to, we will be able to walk to the station on the corner, head north to the Amtrak station, catch a train to Chicago, grab an El to Wrigley, watch the Cubs lose while drinking ourselves silly, hop back on the El back to Union Station, back to Detroit, back on the M-1 to the Sibley Station, and home.

With our condo we got the original plans for the entire development. Like so much else, the bank crisis of 2008 put a stop to plans for the east side of John R. With all the good stuff happening, especially the Hockey Arena, I hope more is done with the other side of John R.

 Above is an example of a property that was clearly great at one time. A hexagonal turret, a Gothic arch detail, an interest in details that are pleasing to look at. Will it be renovated? Or will it come down? To the right we have what looks to be former school building, probably mid-century construction. Like the towers behind it, the sooner it is demolished the better.

Finally, two more shots from around the corner on John R. This part of the neighborhood is an older building that has been refurbished. The building was hopping on Opening Day, otherwise it always seems very quiet. Our condo is 21st century Townhouse - well laid out, attractive enough, but missing the charm of buildings like this.

The building on the left is one of two neighborhood B&Bs. This B&B has a parking lot that charges competitive game day rates as long as you are willing to walk through the B&B. What I have seen of the interior is well done, As you can see in the foreground, though, the scenery is hardly charming. We don't have a lot of extra space, but if you want to visit and catch a game, you can stay right around the corner.


  1. It looks like you've made an excellent decision. I particularly like your accessibility to Wrigley, rail, libations and all. I saw the Cubs play/lose at Wrigley once. It was 19-ot-83. Libations then, too. It was grand. I think every baseball fan is at least a little bit a Cubs fan.

    Your decision to double down on Detroit is (probably) a brilliant move. Detroit is the future. Every major American city is watching closely, but Detroit will get there first.

    BTW, I'm a big Nate Silver fan. (East Lansing, right?) Nate's prediction of a narrow Red Sox win in the AL East is reassuring, but his prediction of a Mitch McConnell ascendancy in November is daunting. I don't think Nate figured in the effect of this most recent Supreme Court decision. What happens in November will be about playing the short hop on that decision and hitting the cutoff man right now. Nothing is obvious except that the wealthy few will have a disproportionate say in who wins. How they vote with their money is up in the air.

  2. The Wrigley trip would be a long day - but it is definitely doable. I grew up in West Michigan and my mom listened to WGN-radio, so the Cubs were long my NL team. I once managed to take in a Cubs-Cards game in St.Louis. Awesome.

    If Detroit keeps it momentum going we will have made a great investment. If not, I will get to walk to ball games for a few years. That's $400 to $800 a year saved on parking.

    Silver said 60% and lots of recent tweets mention how bad/biased state level race's polling it.

    It is depressing to see the anti-Obamacare ads already. The Dems here haven't nominated a gubernatorial candidate here and we're getting campaign ads against the likely nominee. The corrupting influence of money is obvious to anyone who isn't benefiting.

    The real risk, though, is that these SCOTUS decisions delegitimize our government.