Hotel Park Avenue faces demo after council approves Red Wings arena plans

Hotel Park Avenue (left) and Hotel Eddystone. By Steve Neavling/MCM
Hotel Park Avenue (right) and Hotel Eddystone. By Steve Neavling/MCM

The fight to save the historic Hotel Park Avenue in the Cass Corridor is likely over after the Detroit City Council unanimously approved zoning plans today for the new Red Wings arena.

The Red Wings want to replace the 91-year-old building, designed by famed architect Louis Kamper, with a loading dock. While the Detroit Historic District Commission could still oppose the demolition, a state commission and court are likely to get involved and override the decision.

Late last month, Motor City Muckraker published photos from inside the building, which has been vacant and boarded up since 2003.

Eddystone & Park AvenueThe plan calls for preserving the neighboring Hotel Eddystone, which also was designed by Kamper, the mastermind behind the Book-Cadillac Hotel, the Broderick Tower and other hotels and downtown landmarks.

In the 1920s, the area surrounding the hotels was teeming with fancy shops and hotels, drawing its inspiration from New York City’s Fifth Avenue, according to a historic account by the Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board. But the area declined sharply after World War II when middle-class residents began moving to safer neighborhoods and the suburbs.

Before long, the area was overtaken by drugs, crime and poverty. The few upscale apartments and hotels that weren’t demolished hung on by providing services to lower-income people.

The Park Avenue Hotel, for example, became a senior complex and then a rehab center for drug addicts and homeless people.

The Red Wings arena is expected to be finished by late 2017.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Does anyone muck or otherwise know of a single article lamenting the shape of these buildings in the last 20 years ?

    I am sick of the obstructionists in detroit, being manipulated by a bunch of antiprogress people.

    The nice part of these buildings at one time was the inside, the old stuff from the old craftsmen, hand painted tiles, old growth wood, hand carvings etc. Once that was trashing by the 1970s, the building was worthless, the fact it rotted for 40 more years, its literally just a brick shell.

    Anyone can make that same brick shell, if anyone loves this building so much, take the design, and make a copy of it, you can even do it with new steel beams that are not all rusty. It will be better than fixing this place up.

    There is nothing historic left of these places, they like so many of the old buildings are 20-40 years too late to save, if you care about nice stuff.

    If you just want someone to tell you a building is an architecturally significant shell with a bunch of new drywall inside, we can rebuild any old shell, put a little green sign with gold letters out front for you, and the inside can be boring as hell, cause all the good stuff is rotted, burned, wet, or stripped.

    Get realistic.

    • JeffKeathley

      Well said.

      The time to save it was years ago before this project came along. I know there has been redevelopment of some old buildings recently, but you can’t really compare the David Whitney Building to this. It’s time to move on.